Japan hits record number of centenarians

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TOKYO, Sept 15 (Reuters) The number of Japanese aged 100 or older will reach a record of more than 32,000 by next month, according to a government survey, the latest sign that Japan is ageing quicker than any other country.

One in five Japanese are now aged 65 or older and by mid-century that figure will nearly double, while the population is expected to drop by 30 per cent to 90 million.

Japan's women, who have topped the world's longevity ranking for 22 years, now account for 86 percent of the country's centenarians at 27,682, according to the recent government survey.

Japanese girls born last year can expect to live to an average age of 85.8. Their male compatriots have a life expectancy of 79, second to Icelandic man at 79.4 years.

Japan, which will celebrate Respect for the Elderly Day on Monday, is home to the world's oldest man Tomoji Tanabe, who will turn 112 on Tuesday, according to Kyodo News.

Researchers attribute heathy diet and improved health care as reasons for Japan's longevity.

Tanabe, who says the secret to good health is to neither smoke nor drink, sticks to a daily routine of keeping a diary and reading the newspaper, Kyodo said.

REUTERS RC RK1332

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