Japan climbs to second in world life expectancy thanks to medical advances, suicide prevention steps

Kyodo

Japanese men and women ranked second in the world in average life expectancy in 2016 after setting new longevity records for a fifth year straight, according to the welfare ministry data.

According to the data released Thursday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, Japan’s men climbed to second from fourth with an average life expectancy of 80.98 years, up 0.23 year, while Japan’s women retained second place with a life expectancy of 87.14 years, up 0.15 year from 2015.

Japan was edged only by Hong Kong, which placed first with average life expectancies of 81.32 years for men and 87.34 years for women.

The extended life expectancy for both men and women can be attributed to progress in medical treatment and drugs, the rise of health-conscious lifestyles and fewer people committing suicide thanks to recent countermeasures, a ministry official said.

Japanese women enjoyed the world’s longest average life expectancy, which denotes expectancy at birth, from 1985 through 2010. They began trailing Hong Kong women in 2011 after the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami.

Japanese women regained the top spot in 2012 but slipped behind Hong Kong in 2015.

They were followed by Spanish women in third at 85.42 years, and France in fourth at 85.4 years.

As for the men, Cyprus came in third at 80.9 years, followed by Iceland and Switzerland both at 80.7 years.

The figures for Cyprus are based on 2014 data and those for Spain and Switzerland were based on 2015 data.