Guinness World Records today announces that Japan's Misao Okawa is the world's oldest living woman at 114 years, and, as of today, 359 days old.
With her 115th birthday approaching next Tuesday, Misao-san took the title after Koto Okubo - also from Japan - passed away on 12th January 2013 aged 115 years 19 days. The oldest person ever to have lived is also female, Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to 122 years and 164 days.
Born on 5th March 1898 in Tenma, Osaka, Misao-san married in 1919; her husband, Yukio, ran his own business in Kobe and together they had three children - two daughters and a son. After the passing of her husband, she moved back to Osaka where she still resides, and remains in good health surrounded by her children, 4 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren (one of whom, Hibiki, is pictured with Misao-san and her 90-year old son Hiroshi, above).
Misao Okawa with Guinness World Records Country Manager for Japan, Erika Ogawa
As well holding the Guinness World Records title for oldest woman, Misao Okawa also belongs to an elite group - The supercentenarians. To qualify for membership to this exclusive club, there is just one criterion: being at least 110 years old. Reaching this age is an exceptional achievement, especially given the average life span for women in Japan is just under 85.9 years; outliving the national average by nearly 30 years is an remarkable feat.
Although America is the country with the most centenarians (people aged 100 or over) in the world, there are an estimated 51,376 of them in Japan, with a staggering 44,842 of those being women. Additionally, Japan is home to Jiroemon Kimura, who holds three Guinness World Records titles - Oldest Living Male, Oldest Male, Oldest Living Person - and is 115 years, 314 days old as of today. Both Misao and Jiroemon have lived across three centuries, which have seen immense social and technological advances including the advent of motor vehicles, flight, mobile telephones, social networking sites and 6 UK Monarchs, 4 Emperors of Japan and 20 US Presidents.
Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief, Guinness World Records said: "It is an honour to welcome Misao-san into the Guinness World Records family. Her impressive longevity - nearly 42,000 days - is an inspiration and a testament to the Japanese lifestyle. It's incredible to think that she was born before the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, and Walt Disney… Queen Victoria was still on the throne and the Wright Brothers were still a few years from making the first heavier-than-air flight at the time of her birth."