The official campaign for the July 31 Tokyo gubernatorial election kicked off on July 14. The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about a gubernatorial race in Japan's capital.
Question: The campaigning for the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election has got underway. Newspapers and television news programs are covering the election on a daily basis. What makes a gubernatorial race in the capital special?
Answer: First of all, the governor of Tokyo is the "face of the capital." Moreover, the next governor to be elected in the July 31 election is expected to draw worldwide attention as the new governor's term will last until July 2020, during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Q: Many celebrities run in Tokyo gubernatorial elections, don't they?
A: In the past, writer Yukio Aoshima, former transport minister and writer Shintaro Ishihara, Hideo Higashikokubaru, a comedian-turned politician who went by the stage name "Sonomanma Higashi," and other celebrities ran in Tokyo gubernatorial races. Since there are over 11 million registered voters in Tokyo, those with high name recognition undoubtedly have an advantage in gubernatorial elections in the capital.
Q: Some candidates decided to run while another abandoned running right before the official campaign kicked off. It was a bit turbulent, wasn't it?
A: Yes. To win a Tokyo gubernatorial race, a candidate must garner a massive number of votes. In the 2011 election, Ishihara was elected by capturing approximately 2.61 million votes, while the runner-up, Higashikokubaru, secured some 1.69 million ballots. It's been said that a candidate who announces their candidacy later than their rivals has an advantage.
Q: Is such a tendency beneficial for Tokyo residents?
A: It's obviously not good for local voters. The later all key candidates have affirmed their candidacies, the shorter the period that voters can understand and compare a candidate's platform. Still, candidates in a gubernatorial election can conduct their campaigns for 17 days, longer than the 12-day campaign for a House of Representatives election. Voters should listen to the candidates' assertions carefully before casting their ballots. (By Taku Soda, Tokyo City News Department)