TOKYO: Voters in Tokyo went to the polls on Sunday to elect a new governor in a race that was being closely watched as a popular verdict on the use of nuclear power.

    Voting was under way with no major hitches despite being held a day after the heaviest snowfall in 45 years. Observers say it may affect voter turnout in the city of 13 million people.

    A crowded field of 16 men fought an uninspiring two-week campaign to become chief executive of one of the world’s biggest cities.

    Media surveys suggest one-time television presenter and former cabinet minister Yoichi Masuzoe 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 given 65-year-old Masuzoe a comfortable lead over his closest rival, former prime minister Morihiro Hoso kawa, 76, and renowned lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya, 67.

    Both men have campaigned on an anti-nuclear platform and a win by Hosokawa, who has the backing of popular former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, would create friction for the national government in its eventual aim to get nuclear reactors working again.



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