Japan's females are longest living in world

TOKYO Wed Aug 6, 2008 12:40am EDT

A Japanese girl checks her mobile phone in Tokyo's Shibuya district June 19, 2007. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A Japanese girl checks her mobile phone in Tokyo's Shibuya district June 19, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japanese girls born last year can expect to live until they are 86 years old, which would make them the longest survivors in the world, a report from the country's health ministry showed.

Boys born in 2007 can expect to live to the age of 79.2, ranking third after Iceland and Hong Kong, the report said.

Japan's females have topped the world's longevity ranks for 23 years, something researchers have attributed to their healthy diet and tight social ties, among other reasons.

The report is the latest sign that Japan is ageing quicker than any other country, with government data showing a tenth of the population aged 75 years or older.

The proportion of those 65 years or older is also seen doubling to 40 percent by mid-century.

"People are in different social environments and are influenced by various factors and eating habits, so it's hard to answer the question of why people live long," a ministry spokesman said.

"But we can say that the improvement of medical technologies helps," the spokesman added. Japan has improved treatments for the ageing population's three biggest killers -- cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Japan also has one of the world's lowest birth-rates, leaving the government with the challenge of how to fund its pension requirements, take care of its elderly and maintain productivity.

(Reporting by Yoko Kubota, editing by Miral Fahmy)

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