The World's Oldest Living Person, Misao Okawa, Dies At The Age Of 117

At the age of 117, the world's oldest living person, Misao Okawa, has died. Okawa passed away from natural causes Wednesday morning in Osaka, Japan, according to a local official. She was born on March 5, 1898.

The nursing home where she had lived since 1997 told NBC News that Okawa had begun to eat less in recent days, causing caretakers to worry about her condition. Tomohiro Okada, an employee at the nursing home, told The Guardian:

She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep. We miss her a lot.

Her family ran a kimono business in Osaka. Okawa married her husband Yukio in 1919 when she was 21 years old. Together, they had three children: two daughters and a son. Yukio died in 1931, the Guardian reports. Okawa is survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Okawa celebrated her 117th birthday last month with her 92-year-old eldest son, family members, and local media. She was asked whether 117 years was a long or short lifetime, to which she replied, "It's short." When asked about what was the secret to living a long life, she answered, "I wonder about that too."

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Japan boasts one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, with the average Japanese woman living until the age of 87. (Iceland has the highest life expectancy for men at 81.2 years.) Japan also reportedly has the world's largest population of people over the age of 100, with more than 58,000 centenarians on record, according to government numbers. Nearly 90 percent of them are women.

Okawa was named the oldest living person by Guinness World Records in 2013. The record archive is in the process of verifying the new title-holder. The longest living person on record is Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who lived to 122 years and 164 days before passing away on Aug. 4, 1997.

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