Source: Asahi News Service
Date: 6 April 1987


photo of Shigechiyo Izumi

A Japanese expert on aging says reports that the oldest Japanese man died earlier last year at the age of 120 are false -- he was only 105.

The true age of Shigechiyo Izumi, who died in February 1986, was discovered through research in his family's registration records, says Toshihisa Matsuzaki, director of the Department of Epidemiology at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology.

At an April 4 meeting of the Japan Association of Medical Sciences, Matsuzaki also denied there is any village in the world made up mostly of people well over the age of 100, including a Japanese village with such a reputation.

''There is no such thing as the village of centenarians,'' Matsuzaki says.

The village of Yuzurihara in Japan's Yamanashi Prefecture has a reputation as the home of many old people who go about their daily work with the vigor of those much younger. But Matsuzaki says statistics show that of the village residents over the age of 65, fewer of them are 90 or older than the national average.

''The village is dubbed as a senior citizens' village only because many young people left for the city,'' he says.

Matsuzaki also casts doubt on other villages in the Soviet Union and Equador that have similar reputations.

He says there is no one age 110 or older living in a village in the Georgian Republic of the Soviet Union known as the home of the world's oldest people. He says half of the village residents claiming to be 90 or older gave false ages.

Matsuzaki quotes a Soviet medical researcher as saying, ''It is a fairy tale that people 130 or 140 years old exist.''

Matsuzaki suspects that Georgian men may have reported false ages to escape military service. One reason he is suspicious is that more men than women are 100 or older in the Georgian Republic, in contrast to global statistics that show four times as many women than men reach that age.

Citing research done by American scholars, Matsuzaki also labels a myth the idea that the village of Vilcabamba, Equador, has many residents well over 100 years old.

Matsuzaki quotes the scholars as saying that all the people over the age of 90 gave the wrong age and that those who claimed to be over 100 were actually 86 years old on the average. The age claimed by one person would have made him five years older than his mother, Matsuzaki says.

Shigechiyo Izumi (Wikipedia)
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