TOKYO, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Tokyo gubernatorial election starts voting on Sunday, with about 13 million people who live in Tokyo about to go to polls to choose a new governor.
A total of 16 candidates, all male, have fought an uninspiring two-week campaign to become the successor to Naoki Inose, who resigned in December over a money scandal.
Major candidates include former prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, 65, former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, 65, and Kenji Utsunomiya, 67, former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
According to two Kyodo News survey released earlier this month, Masuzoe, an independent supported by the Liberal Democratic Party- led ruling coalition has a commanding lead, despite his alignment with the government on the need to restart Japan's idled nuclear reactors.
Separate polls by the Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun have consistently found Masuzoe with a comfortable lead over his closest rival, Hosokawa, and Utsunomiya.
Hosokawa made a surprise entry into the race after forming a rare alliance of two former premiers with Junichiro Koizumi to put pressure on the national government to eliminate all nuclear plants in Japan in the near future.
The Tokyo governor has no direct power to change national energy policy, but the verdict of the inhabitants of the political, economic and cultural capital of the country is not be to ignored.
In the previous election in December 2012, Inose won in a landslide victory with a record 4.33 million votes. As a writer- turned-politician, Inose quit a year later over his receipt of 50 million yen (about 488.7 thousands U.S. dollars) from scandal- tainted hospital tycoon Tokushukai.