She succumbed to pneumonia on Thursday at a nursing home for the aged in Hiroshima, western Japan, an official at the facility said.
Kawate, who was born into a local farming family, was exposed to radiation from the atomic-boming of Hiroshima as she entered the city, some 650 kilometres west of Tokyo, immediately after the blast in 1945.
She carried a government health certificate for people exposed to the radioactivity but had no particular illness attributed to the bombing, the official said.
Guinness World Records listed Kawate as the world's oldest person, whose date of birth can be fully authenticated, after Hongo died of pneumonia at the age of 116 in the southern Japan city of Kagoshima on 31 October.
It was the third death of a record-holding centenarian for seven weeks in Japan, renowned for having the longest life expectancy of any nation in the world.
On 28 September, Yukichi Chuganji, who was recognised by Guinness as the oldest man at 114, died in his sleep at his home in Ogoori on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.
It is not immediately clear who is the oldest living person in the world after Kawate's death.
Guinness has named Spain's Joan Riudavets Moll, who will be 114 on 15 December, as the oldest man after Chuganji's death.
Kawate was born on 15 May, 1889, just 25 days after Adolf Hitler and in the same year that the Eiffel Tower was completed, Guinness says on its website.
She worked on her farm until she was 99 years of age when she injured her hands. Some of her children live in Hiroshima and her grandchildren occasionally visited her at the nursing home, press reports said.
Kawate's longevity claim paled somewhat following reports from Tirana that Albania's oldest woman had died on 8 November at the age of 123.
Hava Rexha was reportedly born on 14 August, 1880, and spent her life in the mountain village of Shushica, some 60 kilometres south of Tirana.