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World's oldest person happy to be turning 117, and wonders about the secret to longevity too

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TOKYO — The world's oldest person says 117 years doesn't seem like such a long time.

Misao Okawa, the daughter of a kimono maker, made the comment Wednesday, at a celebration a day before her 117th birthday. Appropriately, she was wearing a pink kimono decorated with cherry blossom prints.

Okawa, born in Osaka on March 5, 1898, was recognized as the world's oldest person by Guinness World Records in 2013.

"It seemed rather short," she said after Osaka government official Takehiro Ogura, who brought her a big bouquet, asked how she felt about living for 117 years.

Okawa, her hair decorated with a pink daisy pin, looked up from her wheelchair and said she was "very happy" to be that age.

PHOTO: Japan's Misao Okawa, 116, center, who is recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, poses with her relatives and Ward Mayor Takehiro Ogura, right, as she is celebrated at a nursing home in Osaka, western Japan Wednesday, March 4, 2015 ahead of her birthday.  Okawa will turn 117 on Thursday, March 5. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
Japan's Misao Okawa, 116, center, who is recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, poses with her relatives and Ward Mayor Takehiro Ogura, right, as she is celebrated at a nursing home in Osaka, western Japan Wednesday, March 4, 2015 ahead of her birthday. Okawa will turn 117 on Thursday, March 5. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

Asked for the secret of her longevity, she responded nonchalantly, "I wonder about that too."

Japan has the most centenarians in the world, with more than 58,000, according to the government. About 87 percent of them are women.

Okawa has slowed in recent months and has trouble hearing but she eats well and is in good health, according to her Osaka nursing home, where Wednesday's televised celebration was held.

Okawa married her husband, Yukio, in 1919, and they had three children — two daughters and a son. She now has four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1931.


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PHOTO: Japan's Misao Okawa, 116, center, who is recognized as the world's oldest living person by Guinness World Records, poses with her relatives and Ward Mayor Takehiro Ogura, right, as she is celebrated at a nursing home in Osaka, western Japan Wednesday, March 4, 2015 ahead of her birthday.  Okawa will turn 117 on Thursday, March 5. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
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