TOKYO, Japan / The Associated Press / May 4, 2010
By Jay Alabaster, AP
The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman on the southern island of Okinawa, has died a week before her 115th birthday, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Petite and gray-haired, Chinen spent her final years at a care center in Nanjo on southeastern Okinawa. She was born on May 10, 1895, according to the Gerontology Research Group , which tracks individuals of extremely old age.
Her family guarded her privacy closely, and details regarding her death were not released to the press — many Japanese newspapers didn't even give her name.
Chinen became the world's oldest known person when Gertrude Baines died in a Los Angeles hospital at age 115 in September.
The oldest human is now 114-year-old Eugenie Blanchard, a French woman born on Feb. 16, 1896, according to the research group. The group has validated 75 "supercentenarians" worldwide who are at least 110 years old, according to its website.
By 2050, Japan's centenarian population is expected to reach nearly 1 million, according to U.N. projections. [rc]
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press