Asia Society presents; 70
A. President vs. a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people. Your host on this transcribed series is a noted author around the world winning broadcaster Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham.
As many of you know one of the purposes of the present Nixon's policy in Asia is to reduce the American military profile. And so we are pulling out troops here and they are perhaps not fast enough for some people but we are doing it. Now what may surprise you is the fact that there are Asian people in high and governments in Asia who are alarmed by this who feel that this may be detrimental to them and in other words they do not all say Yankee go home. Well along these lines I thought it would be a great value if you could meet on this program a man who is highly regarded newspapers or goes. His name is John B Oakes. And Mr. Oakes is the editor of the editorial page of The New York Times and recently spent about a month in Asia visiting primarily Japan and Korea. And I thought if we could get his views on what might be American responsibility be in Asia and how do Asians feel about our being there are not being there. It will add a great deal to our enlightenment. So
Mr. Oakes did you go to Japan in Korea for any particular purpose were you looking to find certain things. I was simply trying to get a feel of what Japanese and Koreans too were thinking about and their attitudes toward us and toward their public affairs their own situation in general it was an effort to inform myself about the general position of Japan and Korea at firsthand. Our obligation in Japan seems to have well been well fulfilled if we began with that blindly giving aid and to Japan is now doing so well. As you might put it is the same party soon. Japan certainly doesn't need our economic aid God knows anymore. The Japanese of course have. Have made fantastic economic recovery in 25 years from the ashes of Hiroshima to the
extraordinary industrial development which they're the third greatest industrial power in terms of gross national product in the world today. Truly extraordinary. And the. The thing that worried me most about the Japanese development wasn't the fear of competition with the United States of which there is plenty of course but internally it seemed to me that the Japanese industrial development had gone so fast and was so intensive both in quality and in actually in area because Japan is a highly concentrated country and which its industrial and population and its industry and population are confined into a really quite small space so intense and intensive that I was a little bit afraid that in their pursuit of the gross national product they were really destroying their own country
from an environmental and ecological point of view. It was a little bit worried that they have not taken the awful example of Western Europe and the industrial areas of Western Europe and of the United States enough to heart and were doing exactly what we have done to our own environment in a much more intensive way both in time and space because after all they've been doing less only in the last quarter century 20 or even the last 20 years. But if we think in terms of American obligation this may sound facetious but if we think in terms of American obligation in Asia we speak out of Japan. Perhaps we have a responsibility to say my friends stop before it's too late. Well I wonder Frank I think we really do I don't think it's facetious but of course when one is said we have a responsibility to call this to their attention that can only
be done simply and I. In an informative way there's nothing we can do about it especially since our own environmental problems are so great and we have very very very far from having solved them myself. So the only thing we can do is is hope that the Japanese and call the attention of the Japanese that seems necessary which I think it is to what they are doing and to our own bad example in respect to environment I'm by environment I'm speaking of not merely industrial water pollution and air pollution and aesthetic pollution I'm talking about the general deterioration of the quality of living that has come with this intense pursuit of GNP this is not a thing that you can do much more about in respect to another contrary simply call it to their attention and hope that they will do something and
feel as about that as we do about it. They're very aware of it. There was not a day that I was in Japan which some story about some dreadful some horrendous example of pollution or environmental destruction didn't appear in the papers they are very aware of it but I can't help but have the feeling that they really aren't doing very much about doing something about it really means terribly restrictive types of legislation. Putting a financial burden on on government industry and the consumer. All three in order to try to correct the various problems specific physical problems in Japan is even worse in a sense that is hair and proportion because they have very little substructure to begin with even in such matters as sewage.
We at least have sewage systems to start out with and trying to improve our own environmental quality but the Japanese are really going to have to begin even at that almost primitive level because magnificent as our industrial development as they have not developed there their basics to anything like this degree is terribly paradoxical. The most paradoxical country. Yeah and there's you especially got a great deal out of this piece you wrote for your paper. Can Japan survive its own success. You talk about the fact that once before in this century Japan almost destroyed itself its military achievement and what a double tragedy destroy itself again if it does economic I don't think they really will because they are highly intelligent extremely. Active brainy and vigorous plan I
am disciplined. That's absolutely right but I really do think that the next ordinary Lang's to which they have allowed various types of pollution and I'm going all the way from scenic pollution aesthetic pollution to very brute physical facts of air and water and land pollution the extent to which they've allowed us to develop really is genuinely serious and I only hope that the Japanese government is going to be taking it seriously in the next very very few year. When you were in Tokyo did you find it difficult to breathe the air for example. Did we see photographs of Japanese people wearing gas. They weren't like they well they do where you do see people wearing masks However I don't really think that that is entirely due to pollution. There is an old Japanese custom wearing masks. When you have a cold or when you think you're going to get a cold and that it isn't necessarily pollution or air pollution matter but
there's no doubt that the air in Tokyo and in other big cities such as I was a really is not good at that it's worse than New York most of the time. Quite a bit worse and the part of this is due to the enormous amount of industry around the automobile traffic and all the things that we are familiar with. My only point in respect to Japan is that it's worse than with us because it's more intense it's more concentrated and it has all happened much more quickly. When you were in Korea you there I think got the impression didn't you that. Drawing back part of our troops like removing a whole Infantry Division I mean we were moving we were moving an Infantry Division from the frontline that is on the DMZ we are reducing our total number of troops which in very rough figures is about the fifth the 5000 that's very rough a year. By June 30th where
reducing the total number by some 20 odd thousand in other words we're reducing our troops by the end of this fiscal year by about a third. We're basically very big reduction but the division is actually being pulled out of the front line namely the demilitarized zone line. Will there be a reciprocal withdrawal on the other side of that. Oh I don't imagine so as all not pretty. No no no I wish that that were true but oh no this is entirely unilateral and of course our our division will be replaced by Korean troops by South Korea and the South Koreans have a very well-trained and I believe an extremely good army and a very large one and they are manning the line except for this one sector that had been manned by an American division. They're there manning all the rest of 150 miles it goes right across the peninsula on one side to the other. What will they replace with additional Silwood use of the sector from which we all would
undoubtedly you know have to. They certainly won't leave it open. Then why be alone with God. Well because the Koreans as a government and I really believe probably most of the South Koreans although it's impossible to be sure of what most people are thinking. But I believe that they it would be fair to say that more that the South Koreans as a people don't want to see American military reduced in Korea because they are constantly worried about an attack from the north. As in 1950 they suffered from this very heavily and obviously this was a terrible experience from which they really haven't recovered psychologically Even now 20 years later. And so that there is this fear that if the American presence is
withdrawn from South Korea this will be an inducement to Kim Il-Song in the north to push down once again and try to conquer the rest of Korea. Unified Korea by force in other words under a communist regime was this entirely an American peacekeeping mission along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. I wasn't supposed to be an international. Well. Technically it is international but in fact only entirely. In fact it's entirely American and South Korean. Remember that that there are far more South Koreans along the line that divides south from North Korea than there are American troops and of course pretty soon it will be entirely South Korean. I wouldn't have enough. I'm sure he's intelligent by the way he or his ideas are not him. Wouldn't he have enough respect for the South Korean army which you say is one of the largest invented find in that part of the world and certainly not to not to attack it.
Well this is an arguable point and of course many people do believe this that the danger of another assault on South Korea military assault from North Korea is minimal. For just this reason that the South Koreans have an exceedingly good army and of course they certainly have the moral and in fact still and at least for the next few years the military support of the United States. Behind them as they had in 1950 but it is also true that the North Korean army while smaller than a South Korean is considered to be much better equipped equipped with more modern equipment and there is simply a fear I think. I think a genuine fear I don't think it's an artificial at least emulated. I think it's a genuine fear on the part of many many South Koreans that
an invasion could occur at any time I buy any time I don't mean tomorrow but this is always a possibility and they are worried about it and they're constantly stressing with us. And I spoke to many people in the South Korean government and outside the South Korean government both military and civilian and they're constantly stressing to us of course the fact that they need more uptodate equipment. Now I think that that need really is recognized now and I would think that once we have furnished them with really up to date equipment then of course they are going to be much more than a match for North Korean forces and I would think if we could all them at least really withdraw in with a reasonable degree of assurance that nothing is going to happen. You must remember that. There's always also a possibility much less so in recent years than ten years ago that the South Koreans would move north to
unify the country themselves if they felt strong enough to do it. Now this was all this has always been a possibility I think if this is also quite unlikely but one had to have this in mind too and we we as Americans wouldn't have looked with favor on this kind of adventure either. You think it was the North Koreans who came down oh yes but we don't question it would probably go that way. Yes if there were no demilitarized zone and there was no protection along this no man's land. Do you think that's what would happen that the North would come to the south again and really attempt unite Korea on its own. I genuinely do think that the probability of invasion from the north are far greater than of an invasion from the South but I don't actually think that either. Either event is very probable. Certainly the North Koreans would not do this without a complete green light if not encouragement from
Chinese and or the Russians and it doesn't really seem that this is very much in the cards now. They certainly wouldn't move without such. So you feel that we still have a military guy thing they have not had with men particularly at least with material. I think that given the history of American involvement in Korea since we as part of the United Nations forces or as really the United Nations forces moved in to defend Korea from what was clearly a case of absolutely on the state the way communist aggression from the north. I think that we do still have a an obligation not to leave South Korea until we are. Really assured that the have some reasonable assurance that the country is strong enough to defend itself. Now the economic recovery of South Korea has been amazing and they really have made vast progress. Just extraordinary progress under American to
religion with great American help. Several billion dollars worth of American help in these past 20 years or 17 years and since the troops and their military strength is certainly a quite a lot of quite high perhaps not quite high enough to warrant our getting out altogether. And the political situation probably isn't quite stable enough but I would hope that we could get out we really will before very very many more years. Do you see any analysis then between Vietnam and Korea. Well there certainly are parallels but I think that the historic reasons and the whole historic background of our involvement in Korea is so different from our involvement in South Viet Nam which is after all in south east in the south east corner of Asia that I don't think that the obligation such as we have remaining in
Korea with some military presence. Is it all parallel to our obligation. If there is an obligation to remaining in Viet Nam I happen to think that we ought to be doing everything possible to remove ourselves from the Vietnamese involvement although I've not in favor of an overnight withdrawal either any more than I am Korea but I think that the that the United States. The history of American involvement in South Viet Nam is so different the reasons and the circumstances were so different from our involvement in South Korea when it was a clear response to immediate aggression from the north. This was so different that I don't really think the parallel is a particularly good one and I think our policy.
South Viet Nam I've always felt that the that we our whole policy should be directed as indeed I believe it and hope it is now finally being directed toward getting out with as much deliberate speed as we can as we can exercise. You know don't you think there is the broad power now to divide the country. It's the fact that Tony also did create a problem for the South in each country that the North would come down and take over the country under its own terms if it could be it in Korea or NPR. You don't feel I claim threats exist. There's certainly there are superficial parallels and in fact there are some real parallels I think but it seems to me that our that American involvement in South Vietnam or in Vietnam was more in the nature of an involvement and what was at first much
more of a civil war than the American involvement in Korea was. And I have always felt that the problem in South Vietnam was essentially that of essential aid out of a civil war it had the elements of a civil war within it now and recognizing that the North Vietnamese also have course come down and great strength. But in Korea it doesn't seem to me to really have originated that way at all it was a rather different kind of thing it was much more the nature of an invasion of one of our middle or an artificially divided but a divided country. An invasion of one country from another in South Korea for instance in South Korea you will not find any body practically sure who has any real sympathy with the communist regime in the north who are who would like to see a communist regime
instituted in South Korea and South Vietnam of course the story is quite different. There you have a difference of a good 15 years. Yeah the Korean War and the 1953 more or less although you call it the war without a war and I'm in Vietnam perhaps it's been a more subtle kind of law fomented in the south by the North so that the same situation exists big just done with different strategy. Well I think it's more than that and I would also add that I don't think of the American interest quite apart from the reasons for the Division in Vietnam and Korea. I don't think of the American interest in Viet Nam. That is from our point of view as nearly as. Close nearly as great as our interest our own interest was in being in the Korean War. Here was a case remember and 950 of.
Straightforward military aggression and I admit there been other straightforward military aggressions where we have not intervened because it just wasn't practical to do so. Obviously one thinks of Hungary and other places but. But it seems to me that it was essential at that time for the future peace of the world that we intervene and we intervene as part of a United Nations action in the South Vietnamese case to become involved as we did unilaterally and I. Land war in Southeast Asia seems to me from a strictly from a point of view of American enters alone quite a different matter and much more difficult to justify. I think this clarifies very much the rather confused. Attitude that some of us have about whether Vietnam in many ways is the same thing as Korea and the fact that our troops were needed in one place therefore they needed in another. And your points are also well taken first because of your perspective and then your
visits there. And I thank you very much for adding to our enlightenment and you would know when we began the program and say that our guest has been John B Oakes is the editor of the editorial page of The New York Times which may spend a month and Korea and Japan and I'd like to bring to your attention a book he wrote some years ago but one which is still very valid called the edge of freedom. I thank you and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of The Asia for Friday presents with Lee Graham. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7 and make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of the Asia Society presents.
- Asia Society presents
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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Identifier: 69-6-70 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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