One day before campaigning kicks off in Tokyo's closely observed gubernatorial election, major contender Kenji Utsunomiya said he had withdrawn his candidacy to give the opposition a better chance.

A former chairman of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Utsunomiya had been seen as competing for opposition support with journalist Shuntaro Torigoe, who received endorsements Tuesday from four opposition parties as their unified candidate.

"I have decided to withdraw from the race, after judging things from a larger viewpoint," Utsunomiya told a news conference in Tokyo in the evening.