Sure enough, it ended up referring to the 111-year-old I wrote about last year, after reading that he apparently apologized for having "been around too long"! Perhaps he was joking about this, but I am very pleased to see no such apologies in this year's birthday article:
Tanabe, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living male last year, eats mostly vegetables and believes the key to longevity is not drinking alcohol.
The former civil servant lives with his son, drinks milk every day and has no major illnesses, although he now writes in his diary only once or twice a month. He used to write on a daily basis.
"His favorite food is fried shrimp, but we've heard that he's cut back on oily food," said an official at his hometown of Miyakonojo, about 900 km (560 miles) southwest of Tokyo.
"He's said he wants to live for another 10 years, that he doesn't want to die."
I love reading this sort of thing -- I hear so many people my age expressing doubts about whether life will still be worthwhile when they're 80, let alone 100+.
My take on the matter is that life being lived (presuming a person is not horribly depressed) always has something in it to look forward to (or if that's too Pollyanna for you, something that is at least potentially interesting). I think some people forget that so much of what aggregates to "happiness" in life comes from the small and even the seemingly mundane: late breakfast on a weekend, curling up on the sofa with a book and a kitten, getting the high score at Tetris, or what-have-you.
In other words, giant robots and space colonization are nifty, but they aren't the primary things that come to mind when I think about encouraging progress in human longevity these days. Rather, I think more in terms of people being able to spend more time tending their gardens, playing with grandchildren, smelling freshly baked bread, strolling through woodland.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to live another day, another year, another 10 years, etc., no matter how old you are. Kudos to Tomoji Tanabe for recognizing this, and I wish him many more happy years of life!