Share your secrets with us, Japan!

Japan has long been known as a country with one of the longest average lifespans. Quite often the oldest people in the world are Japanese, including the oldest woman who died at the age of 117 in 2015, and the oldest man who died at 116 in 2013.

And now, based on recently-reported numbers from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare on deaths last year, it seems that Japan’s long average life expectancy is continuing compared to other nations.

The average lifespan for Japanese women is 87.14 years, and for Japanese men is 80.98 years, the highest ever for both.

▼ Sorry, men.

GAHAG (edited by RocketNews24)

While those numbers may not be as high as the centenarians who made it past age 100, they’re still quite impressive. Here’s how the top five locations look when ranked:

1. Hong Kong (87.34)
2. Japan (87.14)
3. France (85.42)
4. Spain (85.40)
5. Korea (85.20)

1. Hong Kong (81.32)
2. Japan (80.98)
3. Cyprus (80.90)
4. Iceland (80.70)
5. Switzerland (80.70)

And while we only have data from previous years to work with for other countries, here’s how some English-speaking nations compare with their World Health Organization 2015 numbers:

Australia (84.8)
Canada (84.1)
U.K. (83.0)
U.S.A. (81.6)

Australia (80.9)
Canada (80.2)
U.K (79.4)
U.S.A. (76.9)

Australia gives a good showing, but Japan’s women beat them by about three years, and Japan’s men get a few extra days. So what gives? Why is Japan’s life expectancy so high?

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the higher life expectancy is due to medical advancements helping lower deaths caused by cancer and other ailments. But that’s only half the story. What do Japanese people specifically do that makes them beat out other countries?

There are a lot of theories: Japanese people walk more and sit less than people in other countries, they sleep less than people in other countries, or even that they squat when they poop more than people in other countries.

But for me the most convincing theory is the Japanese diet. Of course individual diets vary, but just like we’re talking about the average life expectancy, the average Japanese diet is healthier than other countries’ on the list. Having vegetables as a staple part of every meal, consuming lots of nutrient-rich seafood, drinking bowel-improving tea, having non-sugar-laden breakfasts, spooning up cancer-preventing miso soup, and overall eating smaller portions of everything all comes together in a bunch of small ways that really add up over the period of several decades.

You’d think that Japanese people themselves would be happy over this news, but here’s how some netizens reacted to it:

“This is the saddest news I’ve read all year.”
“Yeah, I used to be really happy to read these. But now all I can think of is how much social security I have to pay goes up every year. Maybe the government should stop reporting these?”
“If the life expectancy came down to 70, I think we’d have stable social security.”
“With the growing life expectancy, if we don’t do something about the corresponding growth in old people’s medical expenses, it’s gonna be a disaster.”

Well that’s a bit of a downer. And it seems no matter what, Japanese people are blessed/doomed to live long lives: just take manga legend Shigeru Mizuki, who lived up to the age of 93 on a diet of fries, burgers, and desserts, for example!

Sources: NHK NEWS WEB via Hachima Kiko, Wikipedia
Top image: GAHAG