By Emiko Jozuka and Lianne Kolirin, CNN
Kane Tanaka, the world’s oldest person, has died in Japan aged 119, according to a statement released by the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Tanaka, born January 2, 1903, died April 19, the ministry said.
Guinness World Records said it was saddened to learn of Tanaka’s passing and said news of his death was confirmed by senior gerontology consultant Robert Young, who also helped confirm his record as the oldest person in life in 2019.
Tweeting about her death, Guinness World Records said: “She became the oldest living person in January 2019 at the age of 116 years and 28 days.
“She is also the second oldest person on record, behind only Jeanne Calment who lived to be 122.”
Tanaka’s family said in a tweet earlier this month that she had been frequently sick recently and “in and out of hospital”.
Born in 1903, Tanaka married a rice shop owner when she was 19 and worked in the family shop until she was 103.
She survived cancer twice and lived through a multitude of historic events, surviving two world wars and the Spanish flu of 1918 – as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
CNN previously reported on Tanaka while preparing to compete in the Olympic Torch Relay ahead of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
The plan had been that she would take the flame as it passed through Shime, in her native Fukuoka prefecture, but ultimately she did not participate, due to concerns over Covid-19.
Tanaka lived in a nursing home in Fukuoka. Her family said she kept her mind and body occupied by doing math and staying curious.
Tanaka’s great-granddaughter, Junko Tanaka, created a Twitter account in January 2020 to celebrate the supercentenarian’s life.
She tweeted photos of her great-grandmother enjoying treats such as cakes and soft drinks, and shared her accomplishments and the interactions she had with loved ones.
CNN previously reported that Junko said of her grandmother, “I may be biased because I’m related to her, but I think it’s pretty amazing — I wanted to share this with the world and that people feel inspired and feel his joy. ”
In 2020, one in 1,565 people in Japan were over 100, of which over 88% were women. Government figures released in July 2020 showed that women have a life expectancy of 87.45 years compared to 81.4 for men.
Announcing Tanaka’s death on its website on Monday, Guinness World Records said “the oldest person and oldest person (female) titles are currently under investigation” and that further further details would be announced in due course.
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Blake Essig, Junko Ogura and Sana Noor Haq also contributed