The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman, dies at 117

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World's Oldest Person Dies in Japan at Age 117

TOKYO (AP) -- 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 and praised 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.

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The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman, dies at 117
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, eats her lunch on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is the oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records and celebrated her 117th birthday today. Okawa has held the title as the world's oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 and the death of Jiroemon Kimura who lived to 116 years and 54 days old. She is ranked as the Oldest Japanese person ever and only the third person to have ever reached the age of 117 in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, is seen during her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is the oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records and celebrated her 117th birthday today. Okawa has held the title as the world's oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 and the death of Jiroemon Kimura who lived to 116 years and 54 days old. She is ranked as the Oldest Japanese person ever and only the third person to have ever reached the age of 117 in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, is pushed in her wheelchair on her 117th birthday at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is the oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records and celebrated her 117th birthday today. Okawa has held the title as the world's oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 and the death of Jiroemon Kimura who lived to 116 years and 54 days old. She is ranked as the Oldest Japanese person ever and only the third person to have ever reached the age of 117 in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman, receives a bouquet of flowers from nursing home staff on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is the oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records and celebrated her 117th birthday today. Okawa has held the title as the world's oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 and the death of Jiroemon Kimura who lived to 116 years and 54 days old. She is ranked as the Oldest Japanese person ever and only the third person to have ever reached the age of 117 in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 04: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman receives a bouquet of flowers on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records, who celebrates her 117 birthday on March 5. Okawa has been dubbed the worlds oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 death of 116 years and 54 days old Jiroemon Kimura, also Japanese. She is ranked first Oldest Japanese person ever and third person reached to 117in the world. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 04: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman poses for a photo with her great-grandchild Himaki and grandchild Takako Okawa on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015 in Osaka, Japan. Japanese woman Misao Okawa is oldest living person in the world as certified by the Guinness World Records, who celebrates her 117 birthday on March 5. Okawa has been dubbed the worlds oldest living person since the June 12, 2013 death of 116 years and 54 days old Jiroemon Kimura, also Japanese. She is ranked first Oldest Japanese person ever and third person reached to 117in the world. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman eats her lunch ahead of her 116th birthday celebrations at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Okawa, born in Tenma, Osaka, on March 5, 1898 to a family of Kimono merchants, married in 1919 and had three children, of which a daughter and a son are still alive, and has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman eats her birthday cake on her 116th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Okawa, born in Tenma, Osaka, on March 5, 1898 to a family of Kimono merchants, married in 1919 and had three children, of which a daughter and a son are still alive, and has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman looks on before her 116th birthday celebrations at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Okawa, born in Tenma, Osaka, on March 5, 1898 to a family of Kimono merchants, married in 1919 and had three children, of which a daughter and a son are still alive, and has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
OSAKA, JAPAN - MARCH 05: Misao Okawa, who is recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest woman, reacts during her 115th birthday celebrations at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 5, 2013 in Osaka, Japan. Misao Okawa, was born in Tenma, Osaka, on March 5, 1898. A descendent of Kimono merchants, she married in 1919 and had three children, of which a daughter and a son are still alive, and four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images)
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A 116-year-old American woman, Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, is now the world's oldest person, according to Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which keeps records of supercentenarians. She was born July 4, 1898.

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's oldest person is now a 115-year-old Tokyo woman, 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.

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

Oldest Living Person Turns 117
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