With its progressive zoning rules and "build, baby, build” attitude, Japan does not tend to have many "not in my backyard" (NIMBY) types. But the governor of one of the country’s less-talked-about prefectures more than made up for it.

Heita Kawakatsu, the four-term governor of Shizuoka — which sits roughly between Tokyo and Nagoya — is a NIMBY like no other. He has single-handedly been blocking the completion of one of the world’s most ambitious construction projects: A ¥9 trillion ($59.3 billion) magnetic-levitation train that will run at 500 kilometers an hour and eventually connect the Japanese capital and Osaka in just over 60 minutes.

Although the maglev will have no stop in Shizuoka, its mostly tunneled route is set to pass through about 10 kilometers of the prefecture. Citing concerns about the impact of construction on Shizuoka’s water supply, as well as on biodiversity, for years Kawakatsu has refused to allow construction in his region to begin.