Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is walking a tightrope as another resurgence of the novel coronavirus in Japan could hit his six-month-old government that is already struggling with falling public support over its virus response and a wining-and-dining scandal involving a ministry he once led.

While citing an easing of the strain on the nation's medical system as a reason for ending a state of emergency in the Tokyo region on Sunday, Suga has apparently judged that the emergency has lost its edge and the number of infections is unlikely to fall even if the government maintains it.

Japan has been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with what some government officials call a "mock sword" because the latest emergency covering Tokyo and neighboring Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures centered on seemingly tepid measures such as asking restaurants and bars to close early in the evening.