Japan women lose longevity crown

Japan women lose longevity crown

Hiromichi Takeuchi helps his 93-year-old mother take off a cardigan at their home in Tokyo. (PHOTO REUTERS)

July 29, 2012, Sunday/ 11:08:00/ REUTERS

Japanese women lost their longevity crown last year after 26 years at the top of world life expectancy rankings, the government said, blaming the 2011 earthquake and tsunami for the drop.

The health and labor ministry said the disaster, which left nearly 20,000 dead or missing, was mainly behind a decline in average lifespan by 0.4 years to 85.90 years. That put Japanese women behind Hong Kong, in the top spot with 86.7 years. The ministry said a rise in the number of suicides last year also contributed to the decline. For men, average life expectancy fell 0.11 years to 79.44, leaving them tied for 7th place with Italians. Switzerland led male longevity rankings with average expectancy of 80.2 years.

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