History, Science and Technology, Justice, and Environmental Issues of SwedenDuring the seventh and eighth centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their trade. In the ninth century, Nordic Vikings raided and ravaged the European Continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden slowly became a united Christian kingdom that later included Finland.
Queen Margaret of Denmark united all the Nordic lands in the “Kalmar Union” in 1397. Frequent tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union’s final disintegration in the early 16th century resulted in a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden and Finland on the other. During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the nation benefited from the worldwide demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Postwar achievement provided the basis for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden.
Sweden followed a policy of armed impartiality during World War II and currently remains independent. Sweden became a member of the European Union in 1995. Many of Sweden’s science and technology activities are carried out by the Embassy of Sweden’s Science and Technology office. The main mission of the Science and Technology Office is to help cooperation in research and development and other exchange of knowledge between Sweden and Japan. This is done by telling decision-makers in Sweden about developments in Japan, and by arranging study visits, workshops and other events. The office preserves widespread contact networks in Sweden and Japan, mainly with key persons and organizations involved in research and innovation in government, academia, and industry.
Most of the activities of the Science and Technology Office are carried out within the framework of “programs” operated in close partnership with, and financed by, Swedish government agencies and other organizations with responsibilities in the particular area covered by a program. Current programs cover the following areas: (1) Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), (2) Life Sciences and Bio-industry, (3) Sustainable Development, and (4) Overall Development of Japanese Science and Technology Policy and Innovation System. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. According to the Swedish Constitution, all public power derives from the people. Sweden’s head of state, the King, has only ceremonial functions. The top branch of the national government is the Parliament, which has 349 members in one chamber.
The biggest political party is the Social Democratic Party. The Parliament must approve all national taxes, annual budgets and legislation. The decision-making powers of parliament are without limitation, beyond those based on specific rules in the Constitution, such as protection of free speech, the ban on capital punishment, and the independence of the court and State civil service in enforcing laws. The Swedish legal system is accusatorial with a prosecutor representing the state and a defense attorney representing the defendant. However, the majority of crimes and offenses, in particular traffic offenses, are sanctioned by police officers or prosecutors in the form of summary fines.
Primary responsibility for the enforcement of legal rules devolves upon the courts and the various administrative authorities. The general courts enforce civil law and criminal law legislation. The Swedish Parliament has founded 15 environmental quality objectivesto guide Sweden towards a maintainable society. The 15 environmental objectives will function as targets for all environment-related development in Sweden, regardless of where it is applied and by whom. The overriding aim is to solve all the major environmental problems within one generation. The 15 objectives are reduced climate impact, clean air, natural acidification only, a non-toxic environment, a protective ozone layer, a safe radiation environment, zero eutrophication, flourishing lakes and streams, good-quality groundwater, a balanced marine environment, flourishing coastal areas and archipelagos, thriving wetlands, sustainable forests, a varied agricultural landscape, a magnificent mountain landscape, and a good built environment.