This chapter explores the background of Swedish–Japanese relations before 1931. Bilateral ties date back to 1868, when Sweden concluded an “unequal” treaty with Japan, giving Swedish citizens the right to live and do commerce in this country that only recently re-emerged on the world stage after 200 years of relative seclusion. While neither country capitalized on the diplomatic relations at first, the dissolution of the Swedish–Norwegian Union, in 1905, gave an important impetus for Stockholm to restructure its foreign relations. Simultaneously, Japan’s victory in the Russo–Japanese War led to a new appreciation of Japan as a Great Power and became one of the reasons for Stockholm choosing Tokyo as its main trading outpost in the Far East. A new generation of diplomats began using Japan as a hub for commerce, and Swedish companies that set up shop in the Japanese Empire increased bilateral trade manifold within a few years.