Toshima Ward in Tokyo is accelerating moves to promote the resettlement of healthy seniors in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, where plans to create a retirement community are underway.

On Wednesday, the ward announced the preliminary results of its survey on the so-called CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) program, conducted late last year. The ward mailed questionnaires to 5,000 randomly picked residents in their 20s to 60s, of which 1,817 people responded.

The results showed that 20.6 percent of the respondents are interested in relocating to Chichibu and 76.9 percent want to avoid doing so. Many who expressed interest cited the city’s rich nature and relatively easy access from the ward.

“We take the results positively and will start making concrete plans with the city of Chichibu,” Kazuhiko Sato, director of the planning section at the Toshima Ward Office, said Thursday. “Specifically, we want to set up meetings with residents interested in a relocation program, inviting officials and citizens of Chichibu.”

Toshima Ward and Chichibu have a sister-city relationship.

Sato added that the ward will probably prepare several housing options for interested residents, including a new apartment complex for the elderly where nursing care services can be provided, and retirement homes converted from vacant houses and other out-of-use public buildings.

Toshima Ward, where more than 20 percent of its 275,000 residents are 65 or older, is leading municipalities nationwide in efforts to create a Japanese version of the CCRC, through which middle age and elderly people will be urged to relocate while still healthy from cities to the countryside where nursing and medical care will be provided if necessary.

The ward is keen to collaborate with its sister city to create a community for its aging residents.

Toshima officials say it is difficult to secure enough land to build new nursing homes in the ward, and that care workers are also in short supply. As of September last year, Toshima had 472 people on the waiting list for nursing homes.

The survey also asked residents about the idea of relocating to the countryside in general. According to the results, 32.6 percent are interested and 65.9 percent are not.

Of those interested, 38.4 percent said they would like to live in the resettled area full time, 32.5 percent said they were interested in living there seasonally, and 31.2 percent wanted to divide their time evenly between two areas.

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