• Kyodo

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The number of people 100 years old or above in Japan is estimated to have hit a record 86,510, with the number of men reaching the milestone topping 10,000 for the first time, health ministry data showed Tuesday.

The number of centenarians as of Sept. 15 represents an increase of 6,060 from a year earlier, marking the 51st consecutive year of rise, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said prior to the Respect for the Aged Day holiday, which falls next Monday.

Of the 86,510, women accounted for 88.4%, or 76,450, up 5,475 from a year earlier. Men totaled 10,060, up 585, the data showed.

When the survey started in 1963, the number of centenarians in the country stood at 153, but it eclipsed 1,000 in 1981 and surpassed 10,000 in 1998, due mainly to advances in medical technology.

In July, the ministry said average life expectancy in Japan, one of the most rapidly graying populations in the world, rose to record highs in 2020 — 87.74 for women and 81.64 for men.

Kane Tanaka, a 118-year-old resident of Fukuoka Prefecture, is the oldest Japanese woman. She has been recognized as the oldest living person in the world by Guinness World Records. Tanaka was born in 1903, the year the Wright brothers flew the world’s first powered airplane.

Mikizo Ueda, a 111-year-old resident of Nara Prefecture, is the oldest Japanese man.

By prefecture, Shimane has the highest number of centenarians per 100,000 people for the ninth straight year at 134.75, followed by Kochi and Kagoshima at 126.29 and 118.74, respectively. The nationwide average stands at 68.54.

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