World's oldest person celebrates his 116th birthday in Japan

KYOTO Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:33am EDT

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KYOTO (Reuters) - The world's oldest living person, Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, celebrated his 116th birthday on Friday with congratulations from around the world and from Japan's prime minister.

Kimura was crowned the world's oldest person by Guinness World Records last December after the death of 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Iowa in the United States.

"I truly congratulate you on your 116th birthday," Prime Minister Shenzo Abe said in a video message.

"I'm 58 years old, still a young man at only half your age. Thanks to your generation's efforts, Japan could overcome several difficult times and achieve the prosperity we enjoy today. Your healthy existence becomes our confidence and pride."

The Mayor of Kyotango City, Yasushi Nakayama, visited Kimura at his home in Kyotango, western Japan, to present him with messages from around the world.

Kimura is living with his 60-year-old granddaughter-in-law and has a three-meal-a-day diet of rice, pumpkins and sweet potatoes, according to local media.

Japan has more than 50,000 people aged 100 or more, 2011 government data showed, reinforcing its reputation for longevity.

The country also boasts the world's longest living woman, 115-year-old Misao Okawa.

(Reporting by Reuters television, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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