World

Misao Okawa, world's oldest person, dead at 117

The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman, died Wednesday, a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.

Not yet clear who will take Okawa's place as world's oldest person

Okawa died of heart failure and stopped breathing as relatives and nursing home workers stood by her side. (Kyodo/Reuters)

The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman, died Wednesday, a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday.

Misao Okawa died of heart failure and stopped breathing as relatives and nursing home workers stood by her side, praising her for achieving a long, healthy life, said Tomohiro Okada, an official at her Osaka nursing home.

"She went so peacefully, as if she had just fallen asleep," Okada said. "We miss her a lot."

Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognized as the world's oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013.

It was not immediately clear who would replace her as the world's oldest person. Guinness World Records said it had begun the process of updating the ranking.

A 115-year-old Tokyo woman succeeded Okawa as Japan's oldest person, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The name of the woman, who was born March 15, 1900, was not released at the request of her family, the ministry said.

Okawa lost her appetite about 10 days ago. Until then, she had been eating well, enjoying her daily cup of coffee and her favorite dishes, including ramen, Okada said.​

Okawa, the daughter of a kimono maker, said at her recent birthday celebration that her life seemed rather short. Asked for the secret of her longevity, she responded nonchalantly, "I wonder about that too."

She married her husband, Yukio, in 1919, and they had two daughters and a son. She was survived by four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1931.

Japan has the most centenarians in the world, with more than 58,000, according to the government. About 87 percent of them are women.

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