TOKYO: Yone Minagawa, a candy-loving great-great grandmother who became the world's oldest person earlier this year, has died at a nursing home in southwestern Japan, an official said Tuesday. She was 114.
Minagawa, who raised four sons and a daughter on her own by peddling flowers and vegetables, died Monday afternoon, said Toshiro Tachibana, an official at the nursing home in the former mining town of Fukuchi.
The attending physician said Minagawa died of old age.
"Her appetite had been declining recently and her energy fading, so the family had asked us to make her as comfortable as possible. The death was not sudden," Tachibana said.
Born on Jan. 4, 1893, Minagawa was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest person in January following the death of Emma Faust Tillman, also 114, in the United States.
Minagawa outlived all of her children except her daughter, and she had seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren, according to the nursing home.
Minagawa usually spent her days at the home resting, but seldom missed a weekly recreational singalong, staff at the home said earlier this year. She had a sweet tooth and was particularly fond of Japanese cakes filled with sweet bean paste.
The world's oldest person is now 114-year-old Edna Parker of Shelbyville in the U.S. state of Indiana, who was born on April 20, 1893, according to the Gerontology Research Group.
Japan has one of the world's longest average life spans ? a factor often attributed to a healthy diet rich in fish and rice.
The world's oldest man is Japanese ? Tomoji Tanabe, 111, born on Sept. 18, 1895. Tanabe lives in the southern city of Miyazaki, according to Guinness World Records.
In 2006, Japanese women set a new record for life expectancy at 85.81 years, while men live an average of about 79 years.
The number of Japanese living beyond 100 has almost quadrupled in the past 10 years and is soon expected to surpass 28,000, the government announced last September.
There are more active centenarians than before, and the rapidly graying population is adding to concerns over Japan's overburdened public pension system.
Fukuchi is about 840 kilometers (520 miles) southwest of Tokyo.