The world’s oldest person dies at 117

Misao Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognised as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013.

File photo of world's oldest person Misao Okawa who died on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images
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TOKYO // The world’s oldest person, a Japanese woman, died on Wednesday just weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.

Misao Okawa died of heart failure and stopped breathing as relatives and nursing home workers stood by her side, said Tomohiro Okada, an official at the Osaka nursing home she was in.

“She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep,” Mr Okada said. “We miss her a lot.”

A 116-year-old American woman, Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, is now the world’s oldest person, according to Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps records of supercentenarians. She was born on July 4, 1898.

Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognised as the world’s oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013.

She lost her appetite about 10 days ago.

Until then, she had been eating well, enjoying her daily cup of coffee and her favourite dishes, including ramen, Mr Okada said.

Okawa, the daughter of a kimono-maker, said at her recent birthday celebration that her life seemed rather short.

Asked for the secret of her longevity, she responded nonchalantly, “I wonder about that too.”

She married her husband, Yukio, in 1919, and they had two daughters and a son. She is survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1931.

Japan’s oldest person is now a 115-year-old Tokyo woman, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The name of the woman, who was born on March 15, 1900, was not released at the request of her family.

Japan has the most centenarians in the world, with more than 58,000, according to the government. About 87 per cent of them are women.

* Associated Press