(TOKYO) -- Japanese centenarian Jiroemon Kimura is proving that a sense of humor may truly be the secret to longevity. On his 115th birthday, he faced reporters gathered at his home in Kyotango City west of Kyoto, with a smile and a brief message – in English.
“Thank you very much. You are very kind man,” Kimura said, as photographers gave out a collective “ohhh,” surprised by his language fluency.
The oldest living man in the world, Kimura is just 237 days shy of the oldest living person, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. That title belongs to supercentenarian Besse Cooper, who lives in Monroe, Ga.
Kimura was born in 1897, and worked at the local post office until he retired at the age of 65.
He has 5 children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren, and 13 great great grandchildren.
While Kimura has slowed down with age, his family says he continues to read the newspaper every day, and never misses a meal.
“It is all thanks to the grace of God,” Kimura said. “I have nothing but gratitude for the life I’ve been given.”
Japan has the world’s fastest aging population, and Kimura is just one of five Japanese who are on the list of 10 oldest people, according to Guinness.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio