Guinness World Records

Dispute over oldest living person dies with Japan's Jiroemon Kimura

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 June, 2013, 3:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 June, 2013, 6:07am

Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, who had been recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living person and the oldest man ever, died yesterday of natural causes. He was 116.

But there appears to be dispute in China that Kimura was really the world's oldest person - at least before last weekend - when a woman who Chinese officials said was 127 years old died.

Official Chinese documents said that Luo Meizhen was born in 1885, which would make her the oldest person ever to have lived, ahead of Kimura, of Kyotango, Japan, who was born April 19, 1897.

"She was 127 when she died, it wasn't unexpected," her grandson Huang Heyuan said

Luo's 1885 birth date was quoted on her official residency permit and identity card, both issued in recent decades, and was confirmed by a state-sponsored research institute in 2010.

Xinhua ran reports of her 127th birthday celebrations on its website in October, describing her as China's oldest person.

But Luo's claim met with little recognition internationally because China did not have a reliable birth certification system until decades after she was born.

Scepticism was further fuelled by reports of the youthfulness of her sons, one of whom she was said to have given birth to at the age of 61.

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest person ever to have lived was Jeanne Calment of France, who was 122 years and 164 days when she died in 1997.

Kimura, who died in a local hospital where he had been undergoing treatment for pneumonia, will be buried tomorrow. According to Guinness, Kimura was the first man in history to have lived to 116 years old.

Kimura became the oldest man ever on December 28, 2012, at the age of 115 years, 253 days, breaking the record set by Christian Mortensen, a Danish immigrant to the United States, whose life spanned from 1882 to 1998.

The title of oldest living person is now held by another Japanese, 115-year-old Misao Okawa, of Osaka.

"Jiroemon Kimura was an exceptional person," said Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records. "As the only man to have ever lived for 116 years - and the oldest man whose age has been fully authenticated - he has a truly special place in world history." "Mr. Kimura was and will always be a treasure to our town, to our country and to our world," said Mayor Yasushi Nakayama.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse