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.