The Defense Ministry resumed construction on the expanded Camp Schwab U.S. Marine base in northern Okinawa on Oct. 29, defying the Okinawan governor’s order that revoked the permit required for the project. Japanese legal experts are virtually unanimous in declaring the ministry’s action unlawful. Gov. Takeshi Onaga demands that the ministry respect his order. The Abe administration refuses. The trucks roll forward. Human bodies lie in their path.

A showdown like this between a prefecture and the national government is unprecedented. It is likely to continue for many months to come. A recent poll in Okinawa showed that Onaga’s action is supported by nearly 80 percent of respondents. He is not likely to back down.

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