NIRA

JPN

OPINION PAPER

Why did Sweden Choose not to Lock Down?
- Constitutional provisions and national character are the background factors -

Sweden has not adopted a mandatory lockdown policy, choosing instead to adopt a moderate approach to controlling COVID-19 which leaves much to the public’s discretion. The decision to adopt such a policy was based on the judgment of experts that even if a lockdown policy was effective in the short-term, the infection would spread once again after it was lifted, and that the government should therefore adopt a policy that the public would be able to tolerate for an extended period. At the same time, it should be noted that the Swedish Constitution stipulates that the central government shall not prohibit the movement of citizens, shall respect the autonomy of local governments, and shall respect the decisions of public authorities such as the Public Health Agency, which is an expert group. Although there has been considerable criticism from overseas regarding Sweden’s lack of mandatory measures, the public is comparatively satisfied with the policy. Historically, Sweden has fostered public trust in government; in this case the public has cooperated with the government’s policy, understanding it as a decision based on scientific evidence. In addition, the Swedish public's attitude of making their own decisions regarding their own actions can be pointed to as one of the reasons for its support of the policy.

In order to enable us to adopt effective measures to protect the health of the public, it would be valuable to increase our knowledge of policies implemented throughout the world and to use them as a reference for our own policy decisions. In doing so, it will be necessary to search for and weigh up the best direction for Japan, based on a multifaceted study of factors including the countries’ cultures, historical backgrounds, social capital, legal systems and medical systems.

Executive Vice President, Nippon Institute for Research Advancement / Chairperson, Japan Research Institute
Pereric Högberg
Ambassador of Sweden to Japan
Ayako Miyakawa
Consultant Surgeon, Department of Urology, Karolinska University Hospital