elderly representational image
Representational image. Gisaburo Sonobe, born on November 6, 1911 in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, died on March 31, 2024, Japanese news agency Kyodo News quoted the local authorities as saying on Thursday. Image Credit: File

Gisaburo Sonobe, a 112-year-old recognised as Japan's oldest man, died on March 31, 2024 in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, Japanese news agency Kyodo News quoted the local authorities as saying on Thursday.

Sonobe was born on November 6, 1911. He became the country's oldest man after the death of his predecessor at 111 in November 2022.

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Sonobe, dedicated decades to educating the youth, teaching Japanese language and society at both junior and senior high schools.

Teacher, librarian until 80 

After his teaching career, he transitioned to a librarian role, which he pursued until the age of 80, even after retirement. Noteworthy literary works, like the Oyudonojo Diary, emerged during his tenure as a teacher.

In 2011, marking his centenary, former students arranged a heartwarming reunion to honour him. Even at 110, he maintained connections with students, exchanging New Year’s cards annually.

Sonobe's lifelong love for reading, especially on politics and health, defined him. He diligently followed health programmes, incorporating advocated practices into his daily life.

Gisaburo Sonobe,
Lifespan: November 6, 1911 – March 31, 2024

Age: 112 years, 146 days

Birthplace: Chiba Prefecture, Japan

Last residence: Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture, Japan

Balanced diet

His balanced diet, favouring potatoes and calcium-rich vegetables, and his retention of natural teeth throughout his life were remarkable.

Upon Kingo Yumoto's passing in 2019, Sonobe became Chiba Prefecture's oldest known living man.

In November 2021, celebrating his 110th birthday, he joined the ranks of super-centenarians. Following Shigeru Nakamura's death in 2022, Sonobe became Japan's oldest living man, and he was the last surviving Japanese man born in 1911, representing the Meiji era's end.

Gisaburo Sonobe passed away on March 31, 2024, in Tateyama, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, at the age of 112 years and 146 days.

The municipal government of Tateyama, where Sonobe resided, has not revealed the exact date nor the cause of his death at the request of his family.

Sonobe's death was announced after Guinness World Records said Wednesday that Juan Vicente Perez, the world's oldest man, had died at 114 in Venezuela. Sonobe was expected to be the next titleholder.