On Sunday at 8 p.m., Okinawa's prefecture-wide referendum on the latest U.S. Marine Corps Air Station being constructed in the city of Nago's Oura Bay closed. The results saw 72.2 percent opposing the facility, 19.1 percent in favor and a mere 8.7 percent voting for neither. That was a predictable outcome, with previous polls in 2014 and 2017 signaling a similar split.

This non-binding referendum will run up against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's expected plans to ignore the sentiment of the Okinawan people. On Monday, Abe told reporters that his government would take the referendum results seriously — but immediately undercut that promise by saying construction of the new base, meant as a replacement for the existing Futenma air station in Ginowan, could not be delayed.

"We cannot avoid the necessity of moving Futenma, said to be the most dangerous base in the world," Abe said. "We can't put this off any longer." However, even putting aside the referendum, the waters are decidedly now murkier, with construction concerns over Oura Bay's unstable sea bottom prompting necessary new construction plans and a rocky way forward.