Ten to 20 cities and towns will be named early next year as the sites for a state program to create new retirement communities, where people aged 50 and over will be encouraged to move to and "lead active lives forever," the Cabinet Secretariat said Friday.

Under the Japanese version of the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) program, middle-aged and elderly people will be urged to relocate while still healthy from cities to the countryside, where nursing and medical care services will be provided if necessary.

The program already exists in the United States, where it is currently expanding. More than 750,000 elderly citizens live in some 2,000 CCRCs across the U.S.