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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 18:57 GMT
World's oldest person dies at 114
Mitoyo Kawate
Mitoyo Kawate had a weakness for custard cakes and liked singing
The world's oldest person has died in Japan at the age of 114.

Mitoyo Kawate died of pneumonia at a hospital in the southwestern city of Hiroshima, Japanese officials said.

She was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the oldest person on 31 October, shortly after the death of fellow Japanese Kamato Hongo, aged 116.

It was not immediately clear who is now the world's oldest person, but it is believed that a 113-year old US woman may have taken the crown.

According to the Guinness World Records, Charlotte Benkner of North Lima, Ohio, will celebrate her 114th birthday on 16 November.

The website of the London-based organisation also records the oldest man whose birth can be fully authenticated as Joan Riudavets Moll, a 113-year-old man from Spain.

It says that the family of Hava Rexha, an Albanian woman believed to be 123 years old, has also claimed the title.

But after her death earlier this month, the Guinness World Records could not complete the authentication of her birth documents.

Japanese longevity

Mitoyo Kawate was born on 15 May 1889 - less than a month after Adolf Hitler and in the same year as the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris.

Kamato Hongo (centre)
Kamato Hongo, 116, was the previous title holder

Kawate, who had four children, was a farmer in Hiroshima until she turned 100, a spokesman for Hiroshima city, Masatoshi Yamada, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

The spokesman said she is survived by a son and a daughter, but did not provide any details about her grandchildren.

Kawate especially liked custard cakes and singing, a caretaker from a nursing home where she had been living for the last 10 years said earlier this month.

After her death, Japan's oldest woman was now 113-year-old Ura Koyama from the southwestern city of Fukuoka, a Japanese Health Ministry official said.

Japan leads the world in longevity, with the life expectancy averaging 85 years for women, and 78 years for men.

The country's traditional diet of fish and green vegetables is thought to contribute to their longevity.


SEE ALSO:
'World's oldest person' dies
31 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
World's oldest person turns 116
16 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Oldest American dies age 114
06 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
World's oldest man dies aged 114
29 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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