Ahead of the start of the forthcoming Reiwa Era on May 1, a centenarian in the city of Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, says he is “full of emotion” as he gets set to see the fifth era name of his lifetime.

Masao Matsumoto, 108, was born during the Meiji Era. He served on active duty three times, including in the 1931 Manchurian Incident that marked the start of Japan’s invasion of China and the subsequent Pacific War of World War II.

“It’s great to see a peaceful time. I’m so full of emotion,” said the former prisoner of war, expressing hopes for a bright future in the new era.

In July last year, Guinness World Records recognized Matsumoto and his wife, Miyako, 101, who was born in the Taisho Era, as the world’s oldest living married couple, with a combined age of 208 years and 259 days at the time.

The couple, both from Oita Prefecture, were married in 1937 in the Showa Era, and raised five daughters.

They moved to a nursing home in Takamatsu about two and a half years ago. They now look forward to visits by their 13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.

Both of them use wheelchairs, and Masao Matsumoto’s eyesight and hearing have waned sharply over the past year, making it difficult for him to enjoy his hobbies of reading newspapers and playing go.

But the couple still have healthy appetites and suffer from no major chronic illnesses.

When their youngest daughter told the couple that it would be nice if they could live until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Masao Matsumoto smiled.

“He is tough, as he has played sports such as tennis, so he’ll surely live until the Olympics,” Miyako Matsumoto said with a smile.

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