Image: Longevity village
Mie Kohiyama  /  AFP - Getty Images
Ushi Okushima, age 105, talks to a reporter in an interview at her residence in the village of Ogimi, in Japan's southern island of Okinawa. Okushima's village is known as "longevity village" due to the long life span of residents there.
updated 3/1/2007 6:30:42 PM ET 2007-03-01T23:30:42

Life expectancy for Japanese women — already the longest in the world — has risen by nearly one year, the Health Ministry said Thursday, citing the latest census data.

Female life expectancy increased to 85.52 years in 2005 from 84.60 years in 2000, Health Ministry official Morio Akimoto said.

The latest figures were calculated based on the fixed census data taken in 2005. The census is taken every five years in Japan.

Akimoto said Japanese women’s life expectancy remained the world’s longest for the 21st straight year, ahead of Hong Kong and Spain, according to U.N. demographic figures.

For men, life expectancy rose to 78.56 years from 77.72 years, the fourth-longest in the world after Hong Kong, Iceland, Switzerland, Akimoto said.

Japan has long been touted as one of the world’s longest-living populations, but experts are worried that changing eating patterns — from the traditional fish and rice-based diet to fast food such as hamburgers and instant noodles — may soon change this.

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