For few months now, there is a discussion going on if the stamps issued in 2002 by India Post and Japan Post with the title “50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between India and Japan” is really a joint issue or not.
Our friend Souvik Ghatak (India) filed an application to India Post under the Right to information (RTI) act of 2005. He asked them, to confirm the joint issue status and to provide a copy of memorandum of understanding signed between both postal departments.
Indian Post provided the following information about the issue presently referenced in the catalogue under [P20020412a]: 1) This is not a joint issue and 2) since it was not a joint issue they could not provide a copy of memorandum of understanding between India Post and Japan Post (see copy of answer below).
Thank Souvik for providing this information confirming this is not a joint issue. As a consequence, it will also apply to all other stamps issued on April 12, 2002 by Japan Post and involving Bangladesh [P20020411], Pakistan [P20020412a] and Sri Lanka [P20020412c].
Actually, in the catalogue, these issues appear already with the mention ‘controversial’ and the classification PX, which stands for doubtful. Accordingly, the wording in the catalogue will be modified and eventually these series will be switched from PX to N section. The stamps will remain described in the catalogue as numerous collector do own them already, but as for all the ‘N’ (non-accepted) joint issues, the collectors have to decide if they want to keep them within their Joint issue collection. The catalogue will just tell them the real status of these issues, which will now respectively be [N20020411] for Bangladesh-Japan, [N20020412a] for India – Japan, [N20020412b] for Japan – Pakistan and [N20020412c] for Japan – Sri Lanka.
Joint celebrations of diplomatic relationship does not necessarily mean that the stamps issued at this occasion are joint. The joint character comes from the will of both administrations to work together on a specific topic. Administrations define date of issue and design. However, even if discussions have started, administrations may finally decide that they will not issue the stamps jointly, resulting in absence of common stamps, no exchange of products, no common joint FDCs, etc. even if the topic remains the same.
There are several countries issuing regularly diplomatic relationship stamps without any connection with the other country. Brazil for example, is issuing several times a year, stamps related to other countries and very seldomly transforms them in a joint issue. These isolated stamps are not even to be considered as unilateral issue, as this vocabulary applies only in the case production of stamps eventually failed for any reason on one side.