Misao Okawa was born March 5, 1898, in Osaka. She became the world's oldest woman on Jan. 12, when Koto Okubo, also Japanese, died at the age of 115 and 19 days.
The world's oldest man, Jiroemon Kimura, is 115 years and 314 days old. Kimura, of Japan, is both the oldest person alive now and the oldest man who has ever lived whose age is confirmed, Guinness said.
Jeanne Calment of France, who had the longest life on record, died in 1997 at the age of 122 and 164 days.
Okawa married in 1919. She lived in Kobe, where her husband had a business, returning to Osaka after his death. She had three children, with one daughter and her son still living at the age of 90-plus, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Japan has 51,376 centenarians, 44,842 of them female. The average lifespan of Japanese women is 85.9 years.
"It is an honour to welcome Misao-san into the Guinness World Records family," said Craig Glenday, Guinness's editor in chief. "Her impressive longevity -- nearly 42,000 days -- is an inspiration and a testament to the Japanese lifestyle."