The 27-year-old Malaysian, who has notched a string of wins this year, including the All England Super Series, crashed to Indonesia's Simon Santoso in the opening round last year after struggling with an injury.
Top seed Lee, who finished runner-up at the Japan Open in 2008, has notched three other Super Series wins in 2010 -- in South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia.
He will take on Gurusaidatt Raja Manuri Venkata of India in the first round, and would then face a re-match of the All England final against Kenichi Tago if the Japanese can get past Muhammad Hafix Hashim of Malaysia.
Lee's first severe test is expected to come in the quarter-finals where he is seeded to meet defending champion Bao Chunlai of China, the sixth seed.
"I've targeted to win the All England this season and I made it. I'm very happy about it, although I couldn't win the world championships. Since I just came back from an injury, I try to enjoy playing the Japan Open," Lee said.
The top half of the draw in the tournament, which starts Wednesday, also includes Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, seeking his first win since the India Grand Prix in 2008.
Beijing Olympic gold medallist and former world number one Lin Dan of China, the fifth seed, is in the bottom half of the draw, scheduled to meet fourth seed and 2004 Olympic gold medallist Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia in the last eight.
Also in the bottom half is Danish second seed Peter Gade, looking to regain the title he won in 1998 and 1999. He defeated Lin at the All England before losing to Lee in the semi-finals.
"I couldn't win the title although I reached the finals in the past years, so I really want to win this time," said Hidayat.
Gade said he needs to be on form.
"To compete against Chong Wei and Taufik, I need to be at the top of my game," the Dane said.
"That's what I focus on right now. It's tough to keep the best form (since the world championships), but I've tried to keep the same form."
In the women's singles, Chinese world numbers one and two Wang Yihan and Wang Xin, last year's finalists, will be the players to beat.
The 2008 champion, Wang Yihan, has yet to win a title this season, while Wang Xin has a string of wins under her belt including the Malaysia Open Super Series, the German Open and China Masters.
Fellow Chinese Wang Shixian and 2009 world champion Lu Lan are expected to be a threat in Wang Yihan's side of the draw.
Yao Jie of the Netherlands and European champion Tine Baun of Denmark, who won the 2007 Japan Open, are potential stumbling blocks for Wang Xin.