The world’s oldest person has died at 119 years old.
Kane Tanaka – who was born on January 2, 1903 – passed away at a hospital in Fukuoka city, western Japan, on April 19th, Japan’s state broadcaster has confirmed.
Local governor Seitaro Hattori said in a statement: “I was looking forward to seeing Kane-san on this year’s Respect for the Aged Day [a national holiday in September] and celebrating together with her favourite soda and chocolate.
“I am extremely saddened by the news.”
Kane – who previously owned a noodle shop – had lived at a nursing home, where she had been partial to eating chocolate, consuming fizzy drinks, and playing board games, including Othello, among other activities.
Her family wrote in a tweet on April 13th that she had been “hospitalised and discharged repeatedly”.
She reached the age of 119 in January this year, and in a Twitter message posted by her family, she said: “I was able to come this far with the support of many people. I hope you will continue to have fun, [and be] cheerful and energetic.”
Kane’s death comes just a few years before she would’ve become the oldest woman ever.
Jeanne Louise Calment – who was born in France on 21 February 1875 and died on 4 August 1997 – still holds the title after she passed away aged 122 years 164 days.
The oldest male ever is Kane’s fellow compatriot Jiroemon Kimura, who was born on 19 April 1897 and died on 12 June 2013, aged 116 years 54 days.
Kane was confirmed by the Guinness World Records as the oldest person living in 2019.
She was due to take part in the Tokyo Olympics torch relay in 2021 in a wheelchair, but the coronavirus pandemic prevented her from doing so.
Her birth year, 1903, was the same year the Wright Brothers – Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright – flew for the first time, and physicist and chemist Marie Curie became the first-ever woman to win a Nobel Prize.