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BIOGRAPHY

Tokio Watanabe was born in Kuma, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, on 12 December 1899, into a family that ran a farmer’s and pilgrim’s inn. He was the second of three children. When he was around 22 years old, he traveled every night to propose marriage to Shakae, a woman who lived in a village about 20 km away. They eventually married and had two sons and six daughters. However, when Watanabe was 42 years old, his wife passed away at the age of 36. Their youngest child was only three years old at the time. The older children took care of their younger siblings, while Watanabe supported his family by carrying supplies by horse through the mountain pass between Matsuyama City and Kuma Town at night. He walked until dawn every day, working hard without having time to sit down and eat.

Watanabe was not drafted into World War II due to his height (less than 152cm), but he supported the war effort by training military horses. His eldest son and second son were drafted into the military, and the second son lost his life in action in Okinawa in June 1945, while his eldest son returned from service in China. After World War II, he served as a member of the assembly of the former Kawase Village (now Kumakōgen Town) for four years, starting in 1947. Additionally, he cultivated wheat, sugar cane, and rice as a farmer, continuing to do so until the age of 95.

On his 100th birthday, his six children, including his 78-year-old eldest son, gathered with the family to celebrate his longevity. At the time of his 100th birthday, he reportedly had 16 grandchildren, approximately 40 great-grandchildren, and many more great-great-grandchildren. Even at the age of 100, he was strong enough to mow rice fields. Though he had difficulty hearing, he could still read and write easily and enjoyed watching news programs. He had no major illnesses throughout his life and enjoyed drinking white wine.

Watanabe passed away on 6 February 2010, at a hospital in Kumakōgen due to pneumonia, at the age of 110 years, 56 days.

RECOGNITION

Following the death of Hisashi Ōmasa of Matsumae Town on 20 February 2008, at the age of 108, Watanabe became the oldest living man in Ehime Prefecture.

As of September 2009, he was the fourth-oldest living man in Japan, behind Jiroemon Kimura, Eisaku Yamazaki, and Kiyotoshi Inoue.

At the time of his death, he was the second-oldest living man in Japan, behind Jiroemon Kimura, and the last surviving Japanese man born in 1899.

ATTRIBUTION

* 全国高齢者名簿, September 2003 edition

* ”生き生き100歳、家族に囲まれ 渡部時雄さん” – Ehime Shimbun, 3 January 2000

* ”渡部時雄氏 県内男性最高齢” – Ehime Shimbun, 9 February 2010

GALLERY

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