NAHA, Okinawa — Gov. Keiichi Inamine said Sunday he doesn’t buy the idea that the “burden” Okinawa bears by hosting the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan would be relieved by having the Japanese military take over some of the bases.

“If the U.S. military is replaced by the self-defense forces, I would not consider it as reduction,” he said. “I do not mean only the U.S. military when I talk about reduction in the military presence.”

About 75 percent of the land in Japan used solely by the U.S. military is on Okinawa. More than half the U.S. troops in Japan are stationed on the island.

Inamine was responding to reports of various scenarios emerging from talks between the United States and Japan on realigning U.S. forces in Japan. One such plan is for the two countries to begin jointly using bases in the country.

On Saturday, Japan Defense Agency Director Yoshinori Ohno asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to support such a plan, according to Japan Defense Agency officials.

During a brief meeting in Tokyo, Ohno told Rice the shared use of some bases would strengthen the bilateral security partnership, according to reports. No mention was made concerning specific bases.

It’s not a proposition welcomed by many Okinawans who remember their disappointment in 1972 when the United States closed some bases when the prefecture was turned back to Japanese sovereignty. Instead of being used for nonmilitary purposes, the bases, such as the Naha Air Base, were made active again by the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

Inamine returned Sunday from a nine-day trip to the United States to lobby for reducing the U.S. military’s Okinawa footprint by closing some bases, evicting the Marines and making changes to the U.S.-Japan status of forces agreement.

“The most impressive point throughout the tour was that every person I met during the visit expressed a need to speed up the realignment process,” he said at a news conference at Naha International Airport.

He said he was buoyed by a stop on Hawaii during his return flight. Inamine said he met with officials at the U.S. Pacific Command, who told him that closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was one of the focal points of the realignment talks.

“Moving the Marine Corps outside Okinawa is now my basic stance,” Inamine told the press. “I will continue to urge both U.S. and Japanese governments to make it happen through the realignment.”

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