25,606 Japanese Centurians

TOKYO - The number of centenarians in Japan is expected to reach a record 25,606 by Sept. 30, up 2,568 from last year, Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday. Women accounted for 21,820 centenarians.
The number of men aged 100 or over rose 263 to 3,786, while 2,305 women marked their centenary, accounting for 85.2 percent of the total - the second-highest ratio since 1963 when 86.9 percent of centenarians were women.
In 1983, the number of women aged 100 or more reached the 1,000 range growing from 133 in 1963 when the statistics began. Ten thousand women had marked their centenary by 2000 and the number doubled over the past five years.
The ratio of female centenarians has steadily risen each year from about 80 percent in early 1990s.
``The latest statistics reflect the faster growth in the average life span of women compared to men. The death of soldiers during wars could be one reason for this trend,’’ Kansai University professor Kiyoshi Hamano said.
The number of people who will blow out the candles on their 100th birthday cake from April 2005 through March 2006 will reach 12,703, up 792 from 2004. Men will account for 2,142 of those celebrating a century, up 139 from last year, and women for 10,561 were women, up 653.
Yone Minagawa of Akaikemachi is the oldest woman. She marked her 112th birthday on Jan. 4. The oldest man is Nijiro Tokuda in Kagoshima who turned 110 on June 10.
Both were alive when Japan defeated the Russian Baltic Fleet a century ago in the Japan Sea, which brought the Japan-Russo War to an end.