Issue Dates: 1948-1972
Scott Catalogue Value: $1,039.40
Mystic Price: $570.00
You Save: $469.40
Ryukyu Islands collection contains 260 mint stamps – some in mounts – and eight album pages. This is a quality, nearly-complete collection that begins with #1 through #7. High-value stamps include #14 ($60) and #15 ($55). Also features Airmail and Special Delivery stamps.
There are more than 100 Ryukyu islands, which stretch from Japan to Taiwan. They have a total land area of 1,205 square miles. Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands. It is also the largest and most important island in the Okinawa prefecture of Japan, which includes the islands in the southern Ryukyus. Its 554 square miles are home to about 1,500,000 people, which is most of the people in the prefecture.
Japan and China both made claims to Okinawa until 1874, when China recognized Japan’s ownership. When many Americans hear the name Okinawa they are reminded of one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II. Ninety percent of the buildings in Okinawa were destroyed during that vicious struggle. The peace treaty that ended World War II gave the U.S. control of the Ryukyus.
After the Communists took power in China in 1949, the U.S. military built bases on the islands. These bases played an important role in the Korean War that started in 1950. That same year, the U.S. began allowing the islanders some self-rule. The northern Ryukyus were returned to Japan in 1953. However, the U.S. retained Okinawa and the southern Ryukyus.
During the 1950s and ‘60s there was a growing movement on Okinawa to return to Japanese rule. In 1972, the U.S. returned control of Okinawa and the remaining islands to Japan. Through an agreement with Japan, the U.S. was able to maintain control of its military bases. However, no nuclear weapons may be kept on these bases without Japan’s consent.
Most of the Ryukyu Islands are surrounded by coral reefs, formed from the limestone skeletons of tiny marine animals. These reefs, combined with the warm seas where they form, abound with marine life. Fishing is an important economic activity. Many of the islands are mountainous and covered with jungle. There are many active volcanoes, and a great deal of seismic activity.
Ryukyu islanders are natural lovers of the outdoors. They take special pride in their gardens and crops. Sweet potatoes and rice are the main food crops, while sugar cane and pineapples are grown for export.