The government's withdrawal of a controversial immigration bill reflects Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's desire to avoid a further backlash, with his public support already hit by criticism of a sluggish COVID-19 response.

The revision to the immigration control and refugee recognition law had never been a priority for Suga, who saw it as irrelevant to the average Japanese citizen, according to his aides. Railroading it through the Diet would have also enraged opposition parties and held up legislation he views as more important.

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito had hoped to pass the bill during the current Diet session, set to end June 16.