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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Japan doctor practised until months before his death dies at 105

Born in 1911, a year before the Titanic sank, Shigeaki Hinohara was for decades the director and public face of St Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo.

Japanese doctor Shigeaki Hinohara at a news conference in Tokyo on Spetember 25, 2015. The 105-year-old doctor, credited for helping set up the medical systems that have made Japan one of the world's longest-lived nations, died on July 18, 2017. Kyodo via Reuters
Japanese doctor Shigeaki Hinohara at a news conference in Tokyo on Spetember 25, 2015. The 105-year-old doctor, credited for helping set up the medical systems that have made Japan one of the world's longest-lived nations, died on July 18, 2017. Kyodo via Reuters

A centenarian Japanese doctor who saw patients until just months before his death and helped set up the medical systems that have made Japan one of the world's longest-lived nations died on Tuesday. He was 105.

Born in 1911, a year before the Titanic sank, Shigeaki Hinohara was for decades the director and public face of St Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo. It is well known as an "international" hospital that has treated luminaries such as Paul McCartney when he fell ill during a 2014 Japanese tour.

Hinohara was working at St Luke's as early as 1945, when he treated victims of the Second World War Tokyo firebombing that left vast swathes of the city in ruins.

"From the start of this year his health wasn't so good, but until then, he'd drop into the hospital every so often to conduct exams and talk with patients," a hospital spokeswoman said.

An early advocate of healthier living to stave off the ills of ageing, Hinohara in 1954 introduced Japan's so-called "human dry-dock" system of comprehensive annual physical exams - part of the preventive medical system said to contribute to Japan's longevity.

The author of 75 books, including a bestseller on living well penned at 101, Hinohara was also a frequent guest on Japanese television, where he unveiled a lifestyle that included orange juice with olive oil for breakfast. He also said that energy comes from feeling good, not fixed rules about living.

"We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep," he was quoted as saying.

"I believe we can keep that attitude as adults - it's best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime."