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'Oldest Man' Dies in Japan at 120

February 22, 1986|From Times Wire Services

TOKYO — Shigechiyo Izumi, credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest man, died Friday at the age of 120, the Japan Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Izumi, who had a daily drink of shochu, an alcoholic distillate of black sugar he called "firewater," reportedly had suffered from a cold since late last year.

Izumi lived on the remote island of Tokunoshima, south of the major Japanese island of Kyushu.

Oldest Authenticated Centenarian

The Guinness editors said Izumi, born in 1865, was the oldest authenticated centenarian and was two years older than Fannie Thomas of the United States who died in 1981 at the age of 113.

Izumi was born and lived out his life on Tokunoshima, 800 miles of Tokyo. He was recorded as a 6-year-old in Japan's first census in 1871.

In the 1960s the Soviet Union was claiming that several of its citizens had lived past 120 years, but investigations showed that many of these alleged centenarians had assumed the identities of older men to escape military service under the czars.

Rose at 6 A.M.

Izumi celebrated his birthday last June 29 by getting up at his customary time of about 6 a.m. and eating a breakfast of rice gruel and bean paste soup. His normal daily routine was to go for a short walk on arising, watch baseball and wrestling on television, and go to bed at 8 p.m.

Asked the secret of his long life, he replied, "The daily cup of shochu and keeping a simple diet." He also said he never worried and left things to "God, the sun and Buddha."

He had lived so long that his shock of once pure white hair was returning to black at the temples.

His great-grandson Akihiko Izumi, 48, said at Izumi's last birthday, "He's always in smiles when he's with kindergarten children."

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