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Japan returned to the top spot in terms of women's average life span in 2012, a year after falling to second place behind Hong Kong, the government said in an annual report released Thursday.
The report also showed that Japanese men's average life span in the reporting year reached a record high and stood at fifth longest in the world, with Iceland top.
The average life expectancy for both women and men increased for the first time in three years.
The average life span of Japanese women stood at 86.41 years, up 0.51 from the previous year, compared with 86.30 years for Hong Kong women, who topped the rankings at 86.70 years in 2011.
Japanese men's average life span stood at 79.94 years in 2012, up 0.50 from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Icelandic men had the longest average life span of 80.80 years, while men in Hong Kong were second at 80.60 years.
In 2011, the average life span in Japan declined because of the large number of people who died in the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in the northeast.
The percentage of Japanese females born in 2012 who will live to 75 years old is projected at 86.9 percent, while the figure for males is 73.1 percent, according to the ministry.
"The average life span will likely increase in the future," a ministry official said.
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