Yee Kuang HENG is Professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo. Yee Kuang is on sabbatical at Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risks as a Senior Academic Visitor. His recent publications include “UK-Japan military exercises and mutual strategic reassurance”, Defence Studies, Vol. 21 Issue 3 (2021); “Japan’s significance for the United Kingdom’s shaping ambitions in the Indo-Pacific”, East Asian Policy (forthcoming 2022), “Enhancing Europe’s Global Power in Asia 2030”, Global Policy, Vol. 11 Issue 1 (2020); “Shaping the Indo-Pacific? Japan and Europeanisation”, LSE IDEAS Strategic Update (2021); “Military Evolution and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces” in Nicole Jenne and Alan Chong (eds) Asian Military Evolutions (Bristol University Press, forthcoming 2023).
Although the constitutional status of its Self-Defence Forces (SDF) remains a subject of intense political debate, Japan’s participation in military exercises has in fact grown quite rapidly over the years. Drawing from interviews with SDF officers and civilian policymakers, his paper explores what strategic cost-benefit calculations help explain Japan’s choice of specific partners or exercise formats (bilateral/multilateral) in the region. Were exercises valued or developed according to some political, strategic, capacity-building, military/operational, or other benchmark? To what extent do those exercises help Japan maintain or achieve its desired vision of regional order?