Jiroemon Kimura


TOKYO - Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest man in recorded history, has died. He was 116.

Kimura died of natural causes in the hospital in his hometown of Kyotango, western Japan, at 2:08 a.m. Wednesday, the local government said in a faxed statement. Hospitalized for pneumonia on May 11, over the past few days his response, blood-sugar level and urine production had declined, according to the statement. A date for his funeral is yet to be set.

Born on April 19, 1897, when Queen Victoria still reigned over the British Empire, Kimura dodged childhood killers such as tuberculosis and pneumonia that kept life expectancy in Japan to 44 years around the time of his birth.

He became the oldest man in recorded history on Dec. 28, 2012, at the age of 115 years and 253 days. The oldest woman in recorded history, France's Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122.

"He has an amazingly strong will to live," Kimura's nephew, 80-year-old Tamotsu Miyake, said in an interview in December. "He is strongly confident that he lives right and well."

Kimura was also the world's oldest living person. That title now goes to Misao Okawa of Japan, who was born on March 5, 1898, according to a list of the world's oldest people compiled by the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. The previous record-holder for male longevity, Christian Mortensen of California, died in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days.

Born in the 30th year of Japan's Meiji era, Kimura was only the third man in history to reach 115 years of age, according to Guinness.