• Kyodo, Staff Report

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Candidates vying to become Tokyo’s next governor took to the streets under a simmering sun Saturday to make their final appeals to Tokyoites who go to the polls Sunday to decide who will lead the nation’s capital.

At present, three candidates — Yuriko Koike, Hiroya Masuda and Shuntaro Torigoe — are seen as the front-runners among 21 candidates seeking the job. Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Parties and organizations aren’t the ones to decide who would become governor,” said Koike, a former defense minister who, despite being a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker failed to gain the endorsement of her party’s Tokyo chapter.

The LDP’s local chapter, instead picked former Iwate Gov. Masuda, who is also backed by the LDP’s ruling coalition partner Komeito.

“A leader shouldn’t be self-righteous. Please lend me your support,” said Masuda.

Backed by the opposition bloc, including the Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, is Torigoe, a journalist.

“I will devote myself to carrying out the policies I have pledged,” he said.

The new Tokyo governor will face numerous issues, including how to deal with the growing number of children waiting to get a slot in the city’s day care centers, disaster preparedness and readying the city for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

According to Tokyo’s election committee, by Friday, 1.32 million people had already cast ballots in early voting, a 50 percent increase from the previous election in February 2014. There are about 11.27 million eligible voters in Tokyo.

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