TOKYO – Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest man in history, has died. He was 116.

Kimura died of natural causes in the hospital in his hometown of Kyotango, western Japan, on Wednesday, the local government said in a faxed statement.

He was hospitalized for pneumonia May 11, and his response, blood sugar level and urine production had declined over recent days, according to the statement.

Born April 19, 1897, when Queen Victoria still reigned over the British Empire, Kimura dodged childhood killers such as tuberculosis and pneumonia that kept life expectancy in Japan to 44 years around the time of his birth.

He became the oldest man in history Dec. 28, 2012, at the age of 115 years and 253 days.

The oldest woman in history, France’s Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122.

“He has an amazingly strong will to live,” Kimura’s nephew Tamotsu Miyake, 80, said in an interview in December.

Kimura was also the world’s oldest living person. That title now goes to Misao Okawa of Japan, who was born on March 5, 1898, according to a list of the world’s oldest people compiled by the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group.

The third of six children, Kimura was born Kinjiro Miyake in Kamiukawa, a fishing and farming village sandwiched between the mountains and the Sea of Japan.

His parents, Morizo and Fusa Miyake, were farmers who grew rice and vegetables.

After finishing school at the age of 14 as the second-best student in his class, Kimura worked at local post offices for 45 years until his retirement in 1962 at the age of 65.

After retiring, he enjoyed reading newspapers and watching sumo wrestling on television.

He sometimes helped his son farm until he was about 90, his grandson’s widow, Eiko Kimura, said in an interview in December.

Kimura’s living descendants as of December included five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.