A 111-year-old Japanese engineer born at
the end of the century before last was awarded official recognition Monday
as the world's newest oldest man, and joked he was sorry for still being
Tomoji Tanabe, a teetotaller who has repeatedly said that avoiding
alcohol was a secret of his longevity, was given a certificate from the
Guinness Book of World Records by the mayor of his local municipality.
Tanabe, from Miyazaki prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, was
born on September 18, 1895 -- before Japan became a world player,
Australia became independent or the Wright Brothers created the first
"It is nothing special," he said, adding tongue-in-cheek, "I have lived too long. I
With the recognition, Japan boasts having both the world's oldest man
and the oldest woman -- Yone Minagawa, 114, who also lives in Kyushu.
To look after himself, Tanabe mainly eats vegetables and
few greasy dishes, an official said.
He became the oldest male after his predecessor, Emiliano Mercado del
Toro of Puerto Rico, died at the age of 115 on January 24.
Since then, the Guinness Book of World Records has investigated who
should take the title as the oldest man on Earth and contacted Miyakonojo
authorities earlier this month to verify Tanabe's birthdate.
More than 28,000 Japanese are at least 100 years old, most of them
women, according to the government.
The Japanese people's renowned longevity is often attributed to eating
the country's traditional healthy food, despite the hectic lifestyle many
lead in the big cities.
But the longevity is also presenting a headache as the country has very
low birthrate, spelling a future demographic crisis as a smaller pool of
workers supports a mass of elderly.