Man Turns 116: World's Oldest Person Jiroemon Kimura Celebrates Birthday; Will Scientists Study His Longevity?

By Jason Van Hoven on April 19, 2013 4:16 PM EDT

Jiroemon Kimura
Kimura is just one of the 95 people 100 years or older that you will find in Kyotango, Japan. (Photo: Facebook)

Happy birthday, Jiroemon Kimura!

The man's 116th came today and Kimura, the world's oldest person, celebrated yet another year of life with relatives, including his grandson's wife Eikoa, according to the Daily Mail

Yasushi Nakayama, the mayor of his home city of Kyotango in Kyoto -- a prefecture in the west of Japan -- was also in attendance. Kimura was also sent a video message from Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to wish him a happy birthday and offer congratulations on holding a Guinness World Record.

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The man's 116th birthday caused one official to even say that government officials want to find the secret of Kimura's longevity and launch a research project.

"We want city residents to know of the secrets of what enables a long life-span but also to attract tourists to this long-living city," the official said.

Kimura, a former postman, was born on April 19, 1897, and was named the world's oldest person by Guinness after the death of American woman Dina Manfredini on Dec. 17, 2012. He is now the oldest man to ever have lived, whose age has been officially verified, taking over the title from Christian Mortensen of California, who died in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days.

However, there has been speculation that Kimura's title as the current oldest living person is contested by a Chinese woman named Luo Meizhen, who claims to have turned 127 in September. While Luo has no birth certificate to prove her age, she does only have an ID card which states she was born in 1885. 

If there's anything we can take away on the man's 116th birthday, Kimura would most likely want it to be his motto in life and secret to longevity, which is "to eat light and live long," per a Japanese official who accompanied Nakayama on his visit. The centenarian doesn't smoke, drinks only a "modest" amount of alcohol, and has made it a practice to eat only until he is 80 percent full.

Kimura has 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

The BBC reported that Japan is also home to the world's oldest living woman, Misao Okawa, who is 115 years old.

The Daily Mail also noted that Kimura is one of 95 people who will be 100 years old or more in his home city of Kyotango which has a population of more than 60,000.

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