Japanese woman Nabi Tajima, who is the last surviving child of the 19th century, has become the 4th oldest person in recorded human history, researchers said on Friday (local time) as she reached 117 years and 231 days.
Tajima was born in a village on the Japanese island of Kikaijima on August 4, 1900. It was a time when Emperor Meiji ruled Japan as the nation rose from an isolationist feudal state to become a world power, and well before both world wars.
Research and verification by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) shows that Tajima is the world’s oldest living person. She reached 117 years and 231 days on Friday, making her the fourth oldest person in recorded human history, surpassing Marie-Louise Meilleur of Canada.
It marks the first time since December 1999 that someone has been alive who has reached or surpassed Tajima’s age. Other people have claimed to be older, but those claims have never been verified with official documentation and other supporting evidence.
Tajima, who still lives on Kikaijima island, has 9 children and, as of 2017, has more than 160 descendants, including great-great-great-grandchildren, according to the Gerontology Research Group. She has claimed that her secret to longevity is eating delicious things and sleeping well, but she also enjoys hand-dancing to music when the shamisen is played.
Tajima is due to become the third oldest person on April 10, but it will take until November 2019 to surpass Sarah Knauss, who died at age 119 and is the second oldest person. The oldest undisputed person to have ever lived was Jeanne Calment who died in France in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days.
Jiroemon Kimura, who died in Japan in June 2013 at the age of 116 years and 54 days, was the world’s oldest verified male in recorded history, according to Guinness World Records. The current oldest living man is 112-year-old Masazou Nonaka, who is also from Japan.