Japanese women and men retained second and third place in their respective rankings for average life expectancy around the world in 2018, and both groups topped a previous record for the seventh consecutive year, government data showed Tuesday.
The average life expectancy of women in Japan stood at 87.32, up 0.05 from 2017, while that of men was 81.25, up 0.16, according to the health ministry data.
Hong Kong topped the ranking for both men and women at 82.17 and 87.56, respectively. Switzerland came second for men at 81.4, while Spain ranked third for women at 85.73.
“Life expectancy has grown longer as we’ve seen drops in mortality rates for cerebrovascular disease and pneumonia among (Japanese) women and the rate of cancer among men,” said a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry official.
Analysis on potential future causes of death for newborns in 2018 pointed to cancer as the most common cause for both sexes, accounting for 28.23 percent for men and 20.01 percent for women. In a scenario assuming that no one dies of cancer, the average life span can be raised by 3.54 years for men and 2.84 years for women, the ministry said.
For men, cardiovascular disease was seen as the second most common cause of death, followed by pneumonia and cerebrovascular disease. For women, cardiovascular disease also came second, followed by cerebrovascular disease and pneumonia.
Japanese women enjoyed the world’s longest average life expectancy — which denotes the expectancy at birth — from 1985 through 2010. But they fell behind women in Hong Kong in 2011 in the wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan in March that year.
Japanese women regained the top spot in 2012 and kept it before relinquishing it again to Hong Kong in 2015.
The average life expectancy at birth has been rising almost with interruption since the statistics were first compiled in 1947, when the number stood at 50.06 for men and 53.96 for women.