TOKYO - At almost 108 years old, a set of twin sisters from Japan have been recognized as the world’s oldest living identical twins.
At 107 years 300 days old Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama awarded Guinness World Records title for oldest identical twins. (Guinness World Records)
Guinness World Records has announced that Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama were certified with the title, holding the record at 107 years and 300 days as of Sept. 1.
The sisters were born on Nov. 5, 1913 on Shodoshima island in western Japan. They were the third and fourth siblings among 11 children. Growing up, because of prejudice against children of multiple births in Japan, "The hardest thing at that time was being bullied because they were twins," the family told Guinness World Records.
They were separated after 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 and had three children, while Sumiyama remained on Shodoshima island and had her own family as a mother of four.
Their busy lives prevented them from spending much time together as adults, though from around the age of 70, they began traveling together for annual Buddhist pilgrimages.
Today, the twins live in separate nursing homes. Their family described both the sisters as "sociable and positive people."
The recognition meant a lot to the twins and their families, according to Guinness World Records.
"When Umeno received the certificate, she was in tears of joy. Koume, on the other hand, may not have fully comprehended what the official certificate was about, but her family is pleased that Koume's achievement was recognized, given that Koume often talked about Guinness World Records in the past," said the reference book, which has come out with its annual world record publication since 1955.
The previous record for oldest identical twins was set by Japanese sisters Kin Narita and Gin Kanie, at the age of 107 years old and 175 days.
The title for the oldest person living currently belongs to Kane Tanaka, of Japan, who is now 118 years old.
Japan is the world’s fastest aging nation. About 29% of its population of 125 million are age 65 or older, according to the health and welfare ministry. About 86,510 of them are centenarians — half of whom turned 100 this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story, which was reported from Oakland, Calif.