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Land of the centenarians

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Land of the centenarians

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TOKYO (AP) – Reaching the century mark remains a relative rarity for humans, but it is increasingly less so, and perhaps nowhere more than in rapidly aging Japan.

The number of Japanese who are at least 100 years old, known as centenarians, has reached 58 820, according to the latest government estimate, released every September to mark Respect-for-the-Aged Day, a national holiday that falls today.

A Japanese woman is the oldest person in the world, 116-year-old Misao Okawa, according to Guinness World Records.

The oldest man is also Japanese, 111-year-old Sakari Momoi. Somewhat appropriately, one of the Japanese characters in Momoi’s last name means “100”, and his first name Sakari translates as flourishing or the prime of life.

Advances in health care are contributing to increased longevity in Japan and elsewhere. Japan now has 46.21 centenarians for every 100 000 people.

* WOMEN LIVE LONGER: Nearly 90 per cent of Japan’s centenarians are females.

* LONG LIVES: Japan ranks near the top in average life expectancies: 86.61 years for women and 80.21 years for men.

* THE GLOBAL PICTURE: The population of centenarians stood at 441 000 in 2013 and is projected to grow to 3.4 million by 2050, according to the United Nations.

* IN THE U.S.: The United States had 53 364 people who were at least 100 years old in the 2010 Census, or 17.28 per 100 000 people.