National / Science & Health

World's oldest person, last born in 19th century, dies in Japan at 117

AP, Kyodo

The world’s oldest person, a 117-year-old Japanese woman, has died.

Nabi Tajima died of old age in a hospital Saturday evening in Kikai, Kagoshima Prefecture, town official Susumu Yoshiyuki confirmed. She had been hospitalized since January.

Tajima, born on Aug. 4, 1900, was the last known person born in the 19th century. She reportedly had more than 160 descendants, including great-great-great grandchildren.

“She passed away as if falling asleep. As she had been a hard worker, I want to tell her, ‘Rest well,’ ” said Tajima’s 65-year-old grandson, Hiroyuki.

She became the world’s oldest person seven months ago after the death in September of Violet Brown in Jamaica, also at the age of 117. Video shown on Japanese television showed Tajima moving her hands to the beat of music played on traditional Japanese instruments at a ceremony to mark the achievement.

The U.S.-based Gerontology Research Group says that another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, is now the world’s oldest person in its records. Miyako livesin Kanagawa Prefecture and is due to turn 117 in 10 days.

“Currently, she can eat by herself and spends every day in good health. We, as her family members, are very happy about her longevity,” Miyako’s family said in a release.

Guinness World Records certified 112-year-old Masazo Nonaka of northern Japan as the world’s oldest man earlier this month, and was planning to recognize Tajima as the world’s oldest person.

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