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South Koreans Stick It to Japan Over Controversial Stamp

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South Koreans shrugged off official Japanese complaints Friday and queued up at dawn to buy out an entire issue of postage stamps depicting islands at the center of a long territorial dispute between the two Asian neighbors.

All 2.24 million stamps -- 560,000 strips of four stamps -- showing flora and fauna of the rocky outcrops Seoul calls Tokto (Dokdo, The Nature of Dokdo Island) and Japan refers to as Takeshima sold out in about two hours.

Earlier in Tokyo, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference Japan would repeat a diplomatic protest it had made several times to Seoul to no avail.

The islands, which lie between the Korean peninsula and Japan, are inhabited only by a garrison of South Korean soldiers stationed there to assert Seoul's control.

Japan has asked South Korea to reconsider the planned stamps since last year, but Seoul refused, saying it was its sovereign right to issue them.

The two countries have constantly disputed the ownership of the islets since the end of World War II. The struggle is felt more acutely in South Korea, which has bitter memories of Japan's often brutal colonial rule over the peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

Their first stamp squabble over the islands was in 1954, when South Korea issued three kinds of Tokto stamps and Japan responded by saying it would not accept mail bearing the stamps.

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