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Sunday, September 30, 2007

World's Oldest Man Hopes to Live Forever

The world's oldest man celebrated his 112th birthday Tuesday, saying he hoped to live forever. Born Sept. 18, 1895, Tomoji Tanabe was named world's oldest male after the death of Emiliano Mercado Del Toro of Puerto Rico. He died in January at age 115. On Tuesday, the mayor of Miyakonojo City, where Tanabe lives, presented him with a bouquet and a letter of congratulations.

When the mayor asked how many more years Tanabe wanted to live, Tanabe replied, ''for infinity,'' according to city official Yasuo Yamashita.

With his ascetic lifestyle, Tanabe has a good shot at living for at least a little longer.

A former city land surveyor who lives with his son and daughter-in-law, Tanabe is in good health and is known to guzzle milk. He also keeps a diary, avoids alcohol, and does not smoke.

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 number of Japanese living beyond 100 has almost quadrupled in the past 10 years, with the once-exclusive centenarian club soon expected to surpass 28,000, the government announced in September.

The country's centenarian population is expected to reach nearly 1 million — the world's largest — by 2050, according to U.N. projections.

The increase underscores both positive and negative sides of the country's aging population. While experts say there are more active centenarians than before, the rapidly graying population adds to concerns over Japan's overburdened public pension system.

The world's oldest person, 114-year-old Edna Parker of Shelbyville, Ind., was born on April 20, 1893, according to Guinness World Records.

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