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107-year-old Japanese twins certified as world's oldest twins

Tokyo, September 20

Two Japanese sisters have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living identical twins, aged 107 years and 330 days, the organisation said Monday.

The announcement coincided with Respect for the Aged Day, a national holiday in Japan.

Sisters Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama were born on Shodoshima island in western Japan on November 5, 1913, as the third and fourth of 11 siblings.

The sisters as of Sept. 1 broke the previous record of 107 years and 175 days set by famous Japanese twin sisters Kin Narita and Gin Kanie, Guinness World Records Ltd. said in a statement.

About 29 per cent of the population of 125 million in Japan, the world's fastest aging nation, are 65 years or older, according to the health and welfare ministry. About 86,510 of them are centenarians -- half of whom turned 100 this year.

Sumiyama and Kodama were separated after finishing elementary school, when Kodama was sent to work as a maid in Oita on Japan's southern main island of Kyushu. She later married there, while Sumiyama remained on the island they grew up on and had her own family.

The sisters later recalled their difficult younger days. Growing up, they said they were targets of bullying because of prejudice against children of multiple births in Japan.

Busy with their own lives for decades, the sisters rarely met until they turned 70, when they started making pilgrimages together to some of the 88 Shikoku temples and enjoyed being reconnected.

Their families told Guinness World Records that the sisters often joked about outliving the earlier record holders, affectionately known as “Kin-san, Gin-san,” who attained idol-like status in the late 1990s for both their age and humour.

Due to anti-coronavirus measures, the certificates for their new record were mailed to the separate nursing homes where they now live, and Sumiyama accepted hers with tears of happiness, according to Guinness. AP

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