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World’s Oldest Living Person to Mark 116th Birthday

ABC News(TOKYO) -- Jiroemon Kimura, the oldest living man in the world, turns 116 on Friday, and he plans to have a modest celebration with his family in his Japanese home.

Kimura was born on April 19, 1897 -- one year before the start of the Spanish-American War.

The supercentenarian from Japan's Kyoto Prefecture in central Japan, worked as a mail carrier until his retirement when he was 65.  Afterward, he reportedly worked as a farmer until he was 90.

Not only is Kimura the oldest person in the world, but he is the oldest Asian man ever and the last-known man to have lived across three centuries, according to Guinness World Records.

The secret to Kimura's longevity may be in his habits -- he gets up early, reads the newspaper every day and never misses a meal -- but it may also be in his genes.  Kimura's siblings were remarkably long-lived.  The Guardian newspaper reported that four of them lived past 90 years of age, and his youngest brother lived to be 100.

His living relatives include five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and more than 12 great-great-grandchildren.

On his birthday last year, Kimura talked to reporters about his life.

"It is all thanks to the grace of God," he said.  "I have nothing but gratitude for the life I've been given."

According to Guinness World Records, the oldest living woman in the world is Japan's Misao Okawa.  She was born in 1898.

The world record for the oldest verified age ever attained is held by Jeanne Louise Calment of France, who was born in 1875 and died in 1997, according to Guinness.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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