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January 31, 2024

SPF Wargaming Seminar Closing Report

Takuma Matsu
(Research Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation)

The Sasakawa Peace Foundation Security Studies Program has previously conducted Tabletop Exercises (TTX) “Challenges for a Japan-U.S. Combined Response to a Taiwan Crisis Triggered by a Large-Scale Disaster”, “A Contingency in Taiwan Triggered by Cyberattacks”, “Taiwan Contingency Scenario: Escalation from Low-Intensity Hybrid Warfare” and has utilized them for policy recommendations[1].

As part of its research and development, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation's Security Studies Program had run a wargaming study seminar for junior researcher and staff of the Foundation starting in September 2023 under the supervision of Research Fellow Dr. Hiroyasu Akutsu (Professor, Faculty of Law, Heisei International University).

The goal of this seminar aims to help young staff members of the Foundation understand wargaming and acquire the basic skills needed to operate games, such as those of designers and facilitators.

Over a total of 10 sessions from September to December 2023, a total of about 100 people, including junior researcher and staff members from our foundation, participated, learning the history and academic positioning of wargaming, methods such as matrix games, seminar games, etc., they participated in the game as players, and in the second half, some participants gained experience as facilitators and other game drivers.

In the game we tried, we used a variety of scenarios based on the recent international situation, including scenarios for the Arctic Ocean issue and peninsula contingency, as well as replacing the historical facts of the "Cuban Missile Crisis" with scenes around Japan.

Wargaming is a general term for policy simulations such as tabletop exercises (TTX) and is an exercise in decision-making and judgment under given scenarios.
It is considered an effective tool in identifying issues in policymaking and actions based on such policies since free thinking and discussion on policies and actions in response to certain events are possible in a low-stress environment. Therefore, it is widely employed by government offices, military organizations, crisis management agencies, think tanks, universities, and so forth for educational and training purposes for the assessment of policies and actions or for such areas as policymaking.