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Goodbye, Kane Tanaka

Posted: April 27, 2022

Kane Tanaka was the oldest person in the world. She died on April 19 at the age of 119.

Ms. Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903. Imagine how much history she lived through! Ms. Tanaka was Japanese. She loved chocolate, fizzy drinks, and playing the board game Othello. She was certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in 2019. She was 116 then.

Would you like to live as long as Ms. Tanaka did? Or maybe at least to 100? Many Japanese people get to. Japan has the oldest population of any nation in the world. More than 86,000 centenarians (people over 100) live there. And it shows! Public places such as banks, hotels, and post offices keep spare reading glasses on counters for older customers. Train schedules, books, and magazines are regularly printed with extra-large type. Escalators are built to fit wheelchairs. Crosswalks feature buttons that allow an older person more time to cross.

Ms. Tanaka spent her whole life in Fukoka, Japan. The town’s Governor Seitaro Hattori says he looks forward to marking the Respect for the Aged Day later this year. On the menu? Chocolate and fizzy drinks.

Mr. Hattori says, “She gave the people hope for healthy, long life.”

The world’s oldest human is now Lucile Randon, a French nun known as Sister Andre. She is 118.

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. — Psalm 71:18

Kane Tanaka, then 116-years-old, reacts after receiving a Guinness World Records certificate at a nursing home where she lived in Fukuoka, Japan, on March 9, 2019. (Takuto Kaneko/Kyodo News via AP)