The Tokyo gubernatorial election, whose campaign is now in its second week, should be an opportunity for voters to choose the leader of the nation's capital on the merits of the candidates' policies and capabilities, not their ties to major parties and interest groups. The candidates, for their part, need to deepen their policy discussions to provide the electorate with more useful information with which it can make the best choice.

The July 31 election is the fourth gubernatorial race in Tokyo since 2011, as Shintaro Ishihara quit in 2012 to run for a Diet seat halfway through his fourth term and his two successors — Naoki Inose and Yoichi Masuzoe — resigned in disgrace over money-related problems.

Popular attention has focused on the structure of the race, which has attracted a record 21 candidates but is effectively a three-way contest. Yuriko Koike, a former defense minister and locally elected Lower House member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was the first to announce her candidacy among the three front-runners — without the organized endorsement of the LDP, which, along with its ruling coalition ally Komeito, fielded Hiroya Masuda, a former governor of Iwate Prefecture and internal affairs and communications minister.