Chitetsu Watanabe, the World’s Oldest Man, Dies at 112
by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com
On February 12, representatives of Guinness World Records visited Chitetsu Watanabe’s nursing home in Niigata, Japan, to present him with a certificate verifying his status as the world’s oldest man. Less than two weeks later, Watanabe died at the age of 112, having lived an exceptionally long life that he attributed chiefly to his cheerful temperament.
According to Yuri Kageyama of the Associated Press, no cause was given for Watanabe’s death, but he had recently developed a fever and experienced difficulty breathing. The supercentenarian leaves behind 5 children, 2 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.
Watanabe, the eldest of eight children, was born in Niigata in 1907. After graduating from agricultural school, he began working for a sugar plantation, eventually relocating to Taiwan for work. There, he married his wife, Mitsue, and started a family. In 1944, toward the end of World War II, he served in the Japanese military.
When the conflict came to an end, Watanabe and his family returned to Niigata. But life in post-war Japan proved difficult.
“[G]etting to places and sourcing food was a struggle,” daughter-in-law Yoko Watanabe, told Guinness earlier this month. “Having to live under that circumstance with four young children must…