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50 years later

It all started in 1971 when The Swedish Center, an eight-
floor building, was inaugurated in Roppongi in Tokyo.
The architect behind the house was professor Sten
Samuelsson from Malmö.
50 years later a group of people established the association
Japan House Scandinavia (which later changed to Japan
Bridge Scandinavia) with the aim to establish a Japanese
house and Scandinavian hub in Malmö.


Japan Bridge Scandinavia aims to enhance political,
economic and cultural relations between Japan, the
world's 3rd largest economy with 125 million inhabitants,
and Scandinavia - Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland -
with 27 million inhabitants and a combined economy which
is slightly larger than South Korea's and larger than Russia
and Spain's.


The Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)
entered into force on 1 February 2019, opening a new
marketplace home to 635 million inhabitants and almost
a third of the world's GDP. Together with the EU-Japan
Strategic Partnership and the EU-Japan Green Alliance
it brings the people of Japan and Europe closer than
ever before.


J-Parc (Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex)
became the second neutron source in the world in 2008.
ESS (European Spallation Source) in Lund, Sweden, is the
third. The two facilities exchange technical information and
experiences since 2012. In 2017 the Memorandum of
Collaboration was renewed in front of Prime Ministers
Abe and Löfven and again in 2022 by director Helmut
Schober, ESS, and director Takashi Kobayashi, J-PARC.

Toyota's Nordic Hub

The harbour of Malmö (CMP) is Scandinavia’s largest
terminal for new cars and a hub for Japanese vehicles.
More than 200.000 Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and
Suzuki are unloaded annually and distributed to customers
throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

Photo: Dennis Rosenfeldt/CMP

IKEA furnishes Japan

The telecommunication company Ericsson connects
people in Japan, H&M dresses them and IKEA furnishes
their homes. Several other Swedish companies have a long
history in Japan. Alfa Laval within heat transfers entered
the Japanese market in 1925 and Höganäs has sold metal
powder to the vehicle industry since 1956. Three million
school children receive milk in Tetra Pak packages.
Photo: IKEA shop at Harajuko, spring 2020/IKEA.

A Japanese center

The twin cities of Malmö and Lund have become a
Japanese center in Scandinavia. Fujio Mitarai, CEO and
chairman of Canon Inc, has visited Canon's subsidiary Axis
in Lund several times. Together with its neighbour SONY
the two companies have 3 200 employees only in Lund.
Fanuc, Honda and Subaru have their Nordic head offices
in Malmö.
Photo: Fujio Mitarai on visit at Axis in July 2019/Axis

More than a symbol

Beyond business and politics there are literature, music,
art, films, social relations, architecture, food and drinks.
Per Oscar Brekell from Malmö is a certified Japanese Tea
Instructor who appears frequently on Japanese radio and
television, encouraging people to enjoy green tea.
Japanese Bridge Scandinavia aims to promote the exchange
between Japan and Scandinavia and strives for being more
than a symbol - to enrich our lives.

Japan Bridge Scandinavia is the new name

At the association’s annual meeting on 20 April 2023 it was decided to change name from Japan House Scandinavia to Japan Bridge Scandinavia, mainly to be distinguished from the three Japan Houses established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and instead emphasize the bridge as a connection between people and countries, not least because the association has its seat in a region where a bridge connects Sweden and Denmark. A new board was elected. Ofelia Madsen, with several years of work experience with Japan from her time at Sony, was elected as the new chairman, and Mikael Palmquist, chairman IKEA Japan KK, was reelected as the vice chairman. Cerold Andersson, Fanuc Nordic, Lars Vargö, Institute for Security & Development Policy Japan Center, Micael Nord, City of Malmö, Viktor Öwall, Lund University, and Anders Olshov, Intelligence Watch, were reelected as board members. Rebecka Lettevall, Malmö University, Monika Liljenqvist Hermansson, HMS Networks, and Therese Fällman, City of Lund, were elected as new board members. To deputy board members were elected Henrik Fajerson, Skanska, and Johan Grundström Eriksson, AirIkr. At the meeting Nikolina Johnston, COO Uniqlo Scandinavia, presented how the company entered the Scandinavian markets and Anders Olshov, Director Intelligence Watch, the new report ”Scandinavia’s Sustainable Tech Banana Beckons Japan”. Masato Oda, CEO OSINTech, gave a Japanese view and reactions to the report.

Scandinavia’s Sustainable Tech Banana Beckons Japan

Intelligence Watch, a Swedish think tank, has written the new report “Scandinavia’s Sustainable Tech Banana Beckons Japan” about the existing business, research and political relations between Japan and Scandinavia. It recommends Japan to collaborate more with Europe’s more sustainable version of California’s Silicon Valley, which in the report is called Scandinavia’s Sustainable Tech Banana due to its shape, but also recommends the Scandinavian countries to collaborate more with Japan as it is the most developed country and Europe’s main strategic partner in Asia. The report is translated to 北欧のサステナブル・テック・バナナから日本への招待状 by Intelligence Watch’s Japanese partner OSINTech and can be downloaded in Japanese here and in English here.

Ambassador Högberg congratulated

Japan House Scandinavia was established as a non-profit member based association on 22 April 2021 to enhance political, economic and cultural relations between Japan and Scandinavia. Key speaker at the event was the Swedish Ambassador to Japan Pereric Högberg who talked about the Swedish-Japanese relations and congratulated Japan House Scandinavia, welcomed the initiative and promised to support it. ”I like your ambition and your approach. I wish you all the best and let us stay in contact!”, he concluded.

View ambassador Högberg’s speech here. (Video in Swedish)


On 10 November 2019 Intelligence Watch, a Swedish think tank, published a report showing that the cities Malmö and Lund in Southern Sweden have especially extensive business and research relations with Japan: Axis, a subsidiary of Canon, and Sony have 3 000 employees, 70 percent of the cars unshipped in the harbour are Japanese, J-Parc and ESS cooperate as two of the world’s high-power neutron spallation sources, Nippon Foundation is the largest financier of the World Maritime University, Honda, Subaru, Fanuc and Hoya have established Nordic headquarters and Japan is one of the most important markets for big companies like Alfa Laval, Axis, Höganäs, Tetra Pak and Trelleborg. The proposed Japan House interested Malmö city and in September 2020 a high level meeting was arranged. The participants agreed on establishing the association Japan House Scandinavia.