Jiroemon Kimura—who was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the oldest man ever—died of natural causes on Wednesday at age 116.
Japan's Kimura broke the record for world's oldest man last year, when he surpassed a Danish man's 115 years and 253 days. Kimura was born in 1897, the same years as famous aviator Amelia Earhart.
"Jiroemon Kimura was an exceptional person," says 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."
How Kimura lived so long
In an interview with Bloomberg News' Kanoko Matsuyama last year, Kimura said his secret to longevity was to "eat light to live long." According to an official in his town, Kimura only ate until he was 80% full, and he never smoked.
"At the same time, his main carer and grand-daughter-in-law, Aiko, said his positivity helped him to live so long," Matsuyama said. Similarly, Kimura's nephew—Tamotsu Miyake—said in an interview last December that his uncle had "an amazingly strong will to live."
Kimura worked at the post office until his retirement and helped his son farm until the age of 90, according to his grandson's widow, Eiko Kimura.
In December, Eiko said Kimura had never suffered any serious illness and was still able to communicate. He lived at home, where he received nursing care. However, Kimura was admitted to the hospital after contracting pneumonia last month, NBC reports.
Kimura was not the only member of his family to enjoy a long life. Four of his five siblings lived past age 90, and his youngest brother died at age 100 (Matsuyama/Langeland, Bloomberg, 6/12; BBC News, 6/12; AP/USA Today, 6/12; Yamamoto, NBC News, 6/12; Agence France Press/Telegraph, 6/12; Japan Times, 6/12).
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