Who Is Kane Tanaka, The World's Oldest Living Person?
Who Is Kane Tanaka, The World's Oldest Living Person?

While birthdays are always a cause for celebration, Kane Tanaka's was especially so. On January 1, 2022, the Japanese supercentenarian turned 119, extending her record as the world's oldest living person for another year. Tanaka has held the Guinness World Title since turning 116 in 2019. She also garnered the all-time Japanese age record in September 2020 when she clocked an impressive 117 years and 261 days!

Who is Kane Tanaka - Bio and personal life?

Kane Tanaka (田中カ子, Tanaka Kane) (née Ota; born 2 January 1903) the seventh of nine siblings, is a Japanese supercentenarian, who at the age of 119 years, 23 days, is the world's oldest verified living person since the death of Chiyo Miyako on 22 July 2018. She is the oldest verified Japanese person and the third-oldest verified person ever.

In the year 1922, just days after she turned nineteen, she married her cousin Hideo Tanaka whose family owned and operated a business by the name of Tanaka Mochiya. It was into making and selling sticky rice, Udon noodles as well as a type of Japanese sweets called Zenzai. The couple went on to have four children – two daughters and two sons – and also adopted a fifth child, the daughter of Hideo's sister.

After marriage, Kane began working at the store and took on a more prominent role in it after Hideo was drafted into military service during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. He continued serving in the military till 1939.

Her elder son Nobuo, too, joined the military in 1943. As the second world war was nearing its end, he was captured by the Soviet Union and imprisoned in Siberia. He was later released and finally made it back to his home in 1947.

She continued to work in the store till the time she turned 63. Hideo Tanaka passed away at the age of 90 in the year 1993. Kane Tanaka has herself, faced severe health issues and underwent treatment for them at different stages of her life. She has been treated for paratyphoid fever (at the age of 35) and also had pancreatic cancer surgery (at the age of 45) as well as colorectal cancer surgery (at the age of 103).

A book titled In Good and Bad Times, 107 Years Old was authored by her second son and his wife, on her life and longevity.

Since September 2018, Kane Tanaka has been residing in a nursing home in Higashi-ku, Fukuoka where her routine includes waking up at 6 in the morning and studying subjects like mathematics. She is also fond of calligraphy and playing the board game, Othello.

Her family includes her five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Tanaka Name Meaning

Japanese: usually written with characters meaning ‘center of the rice paddy’. One of the ten most common surnames, it is particularly frequent around the city of Osaka and is also found in the Ryukyu Islands. It is listed in the Shinsen shojiroku, but the surname is borne by many unrelated families.

How old is Kane Tanaka now?

Photo: newsbeezer
Photo: newsbeezer

Kane Tanaka celebrated her 119th birthday in Japan, extending her record as the world's oldest person to another year.

According to multiple Japanese media outlets, Tanaka took in the new year and her birthday Sunday at a nursing home in Fukuoka, Japan.

Tanaka's family said she intends to live another year to reach her 120th birthday, further bolstering her feat in Guinness Book of Records, which began tallying her age in March 2019, when she had turned 116.

What has Kane Tanaka lived through?

Tanaka has lived through a multitude of historical events, surviving two world wars and the 1918 Spanish flu. Her life has spanned 49 Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

"I don't remember her talking much about the past ... She's very forward-thinking -- she really enjoys living in the present," Tanaka's grandson, Eiji Tanaka, told CNN last year.

Tanaka is living in a nursing home in Fukuoka prefecture. Her family said keeps her mind and body engaged by doing math, and remaining curious.

The Guinness Book of World Records recognized her as the world's oldest living person in 2019.

The year she was born was the same year when Marie Curie won the Nobel prize in Physics and became the first woman ever to win a Nobel prize. It was also the year when The Wright brothers conducted their first successful flight.

In September 2021, Spain's Saturnino de la Fuente García became the oldest living man at 112 years old. He was born in 1909, and endured the Spanish Civil War, working as a shoemaker.

He said the secret to a long life is, "A quiet life... and do not hurt anyone," according to a press release from Guinness World Records.

Tanaka received congratulatory messages from Twitter users on her birthday.

"It's awesome that at 119 years old she can look straight at the camera and make a peace sign," said Twitter user @TuNatoron.

"Congratulations!! Please always stay healthy," said Mee-san, another Twitter user.

What is Kane Tanaka's goal?

Tanaka hopes to live until she's 120 years old, her family members told Kyodo News. In 2019, the Guinness World Records organization crowned Tanaka as the world's oldest living person when she was 116 years old.

The organization said in its report that Tanaka wakes up at 6 a.m and likes playing board games, and studying math. Tanaka likes putting herself to the test by solving number puzzles and is also a fan of fizzy drinks and chocolate, Kyodo News reported.

When she won the award for becoming Japan's oldest person at 117, she celebrated with a bottle of coke, per Kyodo News. Tanaka has nine siblings and got married to her husband when she was 19 years old, Kyodo News reported.

The oldest verified man ever is also of Japanese origin – Jiroemon Kimura, who lived to the age of 116 years, 54 days. He was born in 1897 and died of natural causes in 2013.

How is Kane Tanaka through the Coronavirus pandemic period?

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Tanaka has taken precautions to preserve her health. Over the summer, Tanaka skipped the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ torch relay due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in Japan at the time. Her family also appears to be offering her social distance. For example, Tanaka’s 62-year-old grandson Eiji told Kyodo that he hopes to congratulate her in person sometime soon, though an exact timeframe wasn’t provided. Tanaka hopes to reach 120th birthday, Kyodo reports.

Tanaka is the third “oldest” person in the world to be verified by Guinness. Prior to her, Jeanne Calment of France and Sarah Knauss of the U.S. were confirmed to be record-holding supercentenarians who reached the ages of 122 and 119, respectively.

Japan reportedly has one of the longevity rates in the world. According to a recent study conducted by Nippon.com, Japan’s number of centenarians has increased significantly in the last 60 years.

The nonprofit Japanese news, travel, and communication website analyzed data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and found that country had 86,510 centenarians on record in 2021. A little more than 88% of those centenarians are women.

Kane Tanaka Health and longevity

Photo: KnowInsiders
Photo: KnowInsiders

Tanaka has had several major illnesses and was infected with paratyphoid fever with her adopted daughter at the age of 35. She underwent pancreatic cancer surgery at the age of 45. Most recently, Kane was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and underwent surgery when she was 103 years old. Her life and longevity were noted by her second son and his wife four years later when they published a book called: In Good and Bad Times, 107 Years Old. At the age of 114, she was interviewed by KBC in September 2017. Kane said she would like to live to the age of 120, crediting her faith in God, family, sleep, hope, eating good food, and practicing mathematics for her longevity. Tanaka was also supposed to hold the Olympic torch at the 2020 Summer Olympics, although she pulled out of it due to concerns regarding an increase in COVID-19 cases in Japan.

On 9 March 2019, Tanaka was officially presented with the "World's Oldest Living Person" and "World's Oldest Living Woman" titles by the Guinness World Records, verifying her longevity claim. On 19 September 2020, she broke the record of longest-lived Japanese person ever, as well as the third-oldest person ever in the world, after surpassing Nabi Tajima's age of 117 years, 260 days. Kane's longevity has since contributed to the maximum lifespan for humans debate. Her age has been compared with Jeanne Calment's, and the 115- to 125-year window is speculated to be the possible maximum lifespan range.

Why do the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world?

Japan is one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world. A quarter of the population is age 65 or older. In Tokyo alone, some 3.1 million residents will be 65 or older by 2025, according to the health ministry.

Keeping those people healthy and productive is key to controlling costs for Japan's national health care system and helping offset a declining birth rate.

At first glance, Nagano would seem an unlikely setting for long and healthy life.

Tucked high in the Japanese Alps, the area experiences long and harsh winters. Arable land is limited. Surrounded by mountains, Nagano is one of the few regions of Japan without immediate access to the fresh fish and seafood that makes up much of the national diet.

Even as Japan's economy boomed and longevity rates climbed through the postwar era, life expectancy in Nagano lagged. Men, in particular, suffered from high rates of stroke, heart attack, and cerebral aneurysms.

Noriko Sonohara, head of the nonprofit Nagano Dietary Association, says much of the blame fell on a beloved, if unlikely, a staple of the Nagano diet: pickled vegetables.

Housewives in Nagano for generations preserved all manner of homegrown produce to make up for the lack of fresh vegetables during long snowy winters, Sonohara explains. And while every village had a secret recipe for the dish, called tsukemono, all included one ingredient: copious amounts of salt. One survey found that Nagano residents on average were consuming 15.1 grams of salt per day — that's nearly three times the daily maximum in U.S. dietary guidelines. "In wintertime, people would sit around and talk and eat tsukemono all day," Sonohara says. "The turning point was 1981 when Nagano became number one in strokes. We decided, 'OK, we have to do something about this.' "

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