World's oldest person Kane Tanaka dies in Japan at 119

Title now goes to Lucile Randon, a French nun aged 118

A Japanese woman recognised as the world’s oldest person has died aged 119, months short of her goal of reaching 120.

Kane Tanaka, who was born on January 2, 1903, was certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest living person in 2019 when she was 116.

Tanaka loved playing the board game Othello, eating chocolate and drinking fizzy drinks.

Kane Tanaka, born in 1903, smiles as a nursing home celebrates three days after her 117th birthday in Fukuoka, Japan. Reuters

She died of old age on April 19 at a hospital in Fukuoka, her home town in southern Japan where she spent all her life, city officials told AP.

Fukuoka governor Seitaro Hattori said he was shocked and saddened by Tanaka's death as he was looking forward to marking the Respect for the Aged Day with her later this year.

Japan, whose population is rapidly ageing and declining, has 86,510 centenarians, 90 per cent of them women, according to ministry figures.

In Japan, the new record holder is a 115-year-old woman, Fusa Tatsumi of Osaka, the Japanese health ministry said.

Who is the world's oldest person now?

The world’s oldest human is now Lucile Randon, 118, a French nun who is also known as Sister Andre, said The Gerontology Research Group.

She recently celebrated her 118th birthday with her traditional port-and-chocolate cocktail, AFP reported on Monday.

Sister Andre was born in southern France on February 11, 1904, when the First World War was still a decade away.

She now lives at a nursing home in Toulon on the Mediterranean coast, beginning every day with breakfast and then a morning mass, though she can no longer see.

“She's happy, she likes very much this attention,” said the home's communications director David Tavella. He said a short press conference would be held on Tuesday morning.

French nun Lucile Randon, who was born on February 11, 1904, is now thought to be the oldest living person. AFP

“But it's just another step, because her real goal is to overtake Jeanne Calment,” he said, referring to a French woman who was reportedly 122 years old when she died in 1997.

This year, Sister Andre received a handwritten New Year's greeting from President Emmanuel Macron, among the many letters and boxes of chocolates sent by well-wishers.

“I was always admired for my wisdom and intelligence, but now people couldn't care less because I'm stubborn,” she told AFP after her 118th birthday.

“I thinking of getting out of this business but they won't let me.”

She worked as a governess in Paris, a period she once called the happiest time of her life, before taking her religious vows with the Daughters of Charity.

“Sister Andre indeed becomes the oldest, and by far, since the next oldest is a Polish woman who is 115,” said Laurent Toussaint, a computer scientist and amateur tracker for the International Database on Longevity as well as the French Institute for Demographic Studies.

Most centenarians are found in the world's so-called blue zones, where people live longer than average, such as Okinawa in Japan or on the Italian island of Sardinia.

But France, while not considered a blue zone, has 30,000 centenarians, statistics compiled by the institute show, with about 40 of them 110 or older.

Updated: April 26, 2022, 7:55 AM