Tokyo governor election kicks off
The race to elect a successor to Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara has kicked off with his handpicked nominee expected to cruise to an easy victory.
Mr Ishihara abruptly resigned to lead a new political party in a general election next month that coincides with the poll in the city of 13 million.
Analysts say his chosen successor, deputy governor Naoki Inose, has a commanding lead among the nine candidates.
They add that the Tokyo vote will essentially be a referendum on Mr Ishihara.
He was a year into his fourth four-year term and provoked a flare-up with Beijing over his plans to buy a group of islands at the centre of a dispute with China.