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NAHA, Okinawa — Gov. Keiichi Inamine on Wednesday implored Japan’s special minister for Okinawa affairs to support reducing U.S. troop presence on the island.

During a half-hour talk before the press at Inamine’s Naha office, the governor and Toshimitsu Motegi, Okinawa and Northern Territory Affairs minister, touched on several U.S. military-related issues.

About half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based on Okinawa, where U.S. bases cover a fifth of the island.

“Beside the existing military-related problems that need to be resolved, we have three new issues,” Inamine said. “The first is in connection with the proposed reorganization of U.S. forces overseas.

“I asked U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld when he visited Okinawa to make visible changes to reduce the burden the people of Okinawa have shouldered,” he told Motegi. “I ask your support in this matter so that reduction of military presence on Okinawa will be facilitated.”

He said a pressing new issue is the recent announcement that a new urban combat training complex is being planned for Camp Hansen’s Range 4.

“I have made my stance clear,” he said. “I oppose the plan. The local community also strongly opposes the construction of a new training complex. I ask you support us in this matter as well.”

Inamine said the third issue is the U.S. Navy’s recent announcement that it would use a new type of low-frequency sonar in Japanese waters.

Opponents of the controversial system say it harms marine mammals.

“Although I do not have detailed information on this, using the sonar only in Japanese waters is absolutely unacceptable and a matter of grave concern,” Inamine said.

Motegi said he took Inamine’s requests “seriously.”

“To answer the strong desire of Okinawa to reduce the burden of hosting the U.S. military, I will make an effort to realize a visible outcome,” Motegi told the governor.

Motegi said Marine Lt. Gen. Robert R. Blackman, commanding general of all Marines in Japan, assured him that the military “would take every possible measure to protect environment and ensure safety of the local community.”

“Lt. Gen. Blackman told me that the construction would not add to military operations on Okinawa,” he said. “Instead, it is to replace and consolidate existing and deteriorating facilities.”

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