• Kyodo

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Japan’s women relinquished the top spot for average life expectancy in 2015 to Hong Kong, the new leader at 87.32 years, data released by the welfare ministry showed Wednesday.

Japanese women now have an average life expectancy of 87.05 years, while Japanese men live for an average of 80.79 years, dropping them to fourth place from third in 2014, the data said.

Nevertheless, Japan’s longevity figures last year broke records for both sexes, with women adding 0.22 year and men 0.29 year.

Japan’s women had held the world record — which denotes life expectancy at birth — since 1985, except in 2011, when they fell behind Hong Kong’s women in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. They quickly regained the top spot in 2012.

The difference in life expectancy between sexes narrowed by 0.07 to 6.26 years from 2014.

An official at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry credited the improvement in both sexes to “progress in medical treatment and drugs” that improved survival rates for cancer, one of the major causes of death.

Among women, Spain ranked third at 85.58 years, followed by South Korea at 85.5 years and Switzerland at 85.2 years.

Among men, Hong Kongers were first at 81.24 years, followed by Iceland and Switzerland at 81 years. Coming after Japan were men from Singapore at 80.4 years.

The figures for South Korea, Spain and Switzerland are based on 2014 data.

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