JOETSU, Niigata -- A 112-year-old resident here who was recently confirmed by Guinness World Records as the oldest living man died of old age during the night of Feb. 23.
Chitetsu Watanabe was born in the village of Uragawara, now part of the city of Joetsu in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast, on March 5, 1907. After graduating from high school, he worked at a factory in Taiwan for a sugar company. He came back to Niigata after World War II, and worked for the prefectural government. After retiring, he became a farmer.
Watanabe had five children, 12 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
According to his eldest son's 81-year-old wife Yoko, Watanabe became unable to eat after celebrating his Guinness World Records certification on Feb. 12, and had to be put on an intravenous drip. He apparently developed a fever on Feb. 21, and his breathing became shallow.
Watanabe had clenched his fist in triumph when he received his world record certificate. He seemed full of energy, celebrating and taking a commemorative photo with a phrase he wrote in Japanese calligraphy that read "the world's number one."
His grandson Tetsuya has organized a wake for Watanabe from 6 p.m. on Feb. 27, and a funeral from 10:30 a.m. the next day at the Ceremony Hall Heian in Joetsu.
(Japanese original by Shigeharu Asami, Joetsu Local Bureau)