World's oldest man Chitetsu Watanabe dies aged 112, days after claiming Guinness World Record

Bronwen Weatherby

The world's oldest man has died at the age of 112.

Chitetsu Watanabe, from Japan, received the Guinness World Records certificate on February 12 at the nursing home where he lived.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Mr Watanabe died late on Sunday, February 23, although no cause was given.

It was just 11 days before his 113th birthday.

He had not been able to eat recently and developed a fever and difficulty breathing a couple of days before his death, Japan's nationally circulated newspaper Mainichi reported, citing family sources.

His secret, he said, was to keep smiling (AP)

Mr Watanabe used to say the secret to longevity was to keep smiling.

Mr Watanabe, of Joetsu City, Niigata, is survived by his five children, 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Watanabe was born in 1907 in the village of Uragawara, now Joetsu, in Niigata - the first of eight children of farming parents father Haruzo and mother Miya.

He worked in Taiwan for 18 years at a sugarcane company Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar Company. He helped conclude sugar cane plantation contracts for the company until the end of the Second World War.

There he met his wife and during the war, he served in the military towards the end of the Pacific War in 1944 - before returning to Joetsu.

Until his retirement he worked at an agricultural office, a branch of the Niigata Prefectural office.

He grew fruit and vegetables on the family farm and loved cream puffs and bonsai, the Japanese traditional art of raising small sculpted trees.

Guinness in Japan offered its condolences to his family.

The oldest living person is also Japanese, Kane Tanaka, a 117-year-old woman.

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