World's oldest person celebrates 117th birthday a day early

Japan has 58,000 people who are over the age of 100

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The Independent Online

The world’s oldest person is celebrating her 117th birthday one day early today in Japan – the country which has the most centenarians.

Misao Okawa, the daughter of a kimono maker and a widow for around 84 years, said that the record-breaking length of her life doesn’t seem like such a long time.

She was born in Osaka on 5 March 1898 and was recognised as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013 after Jiroemon Kimura, also Japanese, died aged 116 years and 54 days. Okawa is the third person to have ever reached 117. When asked how she felt about living for such a long time by government official Takehiro Ogura, who came armed with a bunch of flowers, Okawa said: “It seemed rather short.”

Surrounded by relatives and staff from Kurenai Nursing Home, she wore a pink kimono decorated with cherry blossom prints – the same that she wore for her 116th birthday – and a pink flower in her hair.

When asked for the secret of her longevity today, Okawa, who has trouble hearing but is still in good health and eats well, responded nonchalantly: “I wonder about that too.”

However, she previously attributed her long life and relative health to the benefits of sushi and getting enough sleep – according to MailOnline. She had said: “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax.”

OLDEST282.jpg Okawa married her husband, Yukio, in 1919, and they had two daughters and a son – who is 92 – before he died in 1931. She also has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Japan has the most centenarians in the world, with more than 58,000, according to the government. About 87 percent of them are women.

The traditional Japanese diet has been attributed to long life expectancies. Controlled portions of raw fish, soup, seaweed, vegetables and green tea have been found to boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Japanese females have the highest life expectancy for women out of all countries, living for an average of 87.3 years. Men live on average for 80 years – according to the World Health Organization.

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