INTERVIEWER: Right, I'll ask you again if you can mention names and.
NILES BOND: Yes.
INT: And not say 'it', as it were, if you felt at the time, was General Douglas MacArthur's dismissal justified?
NB: It was my feeling that General MacArthur's, firing was justified. I don't think the President had any all any alternative. I think he had to do it.
INT: And can you describe the scene in April 1951 of his departure from Japan and the reaction of the Japanese people.
NB: Well, he was departing, his plane was leaving.
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NB: General MacArthur's, plane was leaving, scheduled to leave at 6 o'clock in the morning and most of his staff and all of his political advisers so-called were out there by 5 o'clock and as we went, the streets were lined on both sides. The avenue going out to the airport was lined on both sides by some troops, some of his own troops but also of hundreds and probably thousands of Japanese who had come out to say goodbye to him and that included a lot of Japanese schoolchildren who were waving little American flags and so it looked like a triumphal procession and that's what he intended it to look like I think.
INT: Going on to the effects overall of the war, of the Korean War, on Japan, how would you sum up the effect of the war on the Japanese economy?
NB: I think the Japanese economy, which was in a rebuilding state of course still, got a boost, from the Korean War in terms of the needs of the of various countries fighting the war, all of whom I think almost without exception had base camps in Japan and that required building of quarters for them, required also building new roads sometimes, so all those things helped. I don't think it changed the attitude of the Japanese toward the United States. I never saw any of that. One negative repercussion was that some of the rear area camps of participating countries were not properly disciplined and policed and so forth and they had a lot of trouble with drunken soldiers breaking out at night and burning up burning down Japanese villages and terrible things went on and that of course, was a problem for the occupation and for the countries involved.
INT: Was the war significant in cementing Japan economically and politically within the Western democratic capitalist camp?
NB: I don't think so. I think it was already in that camp and I think Japan was already in the Western camp politically and economically and there were mixed feelings I know in Japan about whether the Korean War, whether this was a good thing happening to Japan or not. It was a great inconvenience in many cases for Japanese because Tokyo was full of military vehicles coming and going, all of the seriously wounded from the Korean War were brought back to Tokyo and it was, you know, there were a lot of inconveniences of that sort. Also was a certain confusion because the Japanese don't like the Koreans very much and it's reciprocal of course, and so they had mixed feelings about whether the US should be fighting to save the South Koreans, whether it was a good thing or a bad thing but I think generally it was the -- and this is a fairly at a minor level -- the inconvenience that they were put to by the to-ing and fro-ing all the time from the airport.
INT: I read somewhere thought that more money went into the Japanese economy as a consequence of the Korean War than went into any of the Western European nations as a consequence of the Marshall Plan.
NB: That may be true. I haven't seen the figure.
INT: Whether it's absolutely accurate.
INT: I mean, an economist would have to tell us but was there a sense of a great economic uplift, I mean, despite the irritations that you're talking about, was there a sense overall of a great economic uplift over the years '50, '53?
NB: Well, I think, yes, I think I think there was on the part of the.
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INT: Was there a sense of economic uplift in the period 1950-53 as a consequence of the war?
NB: I think there was a sense of economic uplift among the industries that were profiting from it - there's no doubt about that. that would include the automobile industry I suppose and lots of other industries but I have no figures on that.
INT: Looking at the war overall and very much in the context of the Cold War which is our purpose in this series, how successful do you think Truman was in waging a limited war in Asia over Korea?
NB: Well, I think the thing that allowed Truman to complete the war as a limited war was his firing of General MacArthur because General MacArthur was thinking in terms of, so far as one hears and one reads (unintelligible) he was thinking in terms of turning what was a UN against North Korea war into a US against China war and that would have been way beyond the bounds of limited war, so I think that, whether it was intentional or not, whether that was in Truman's mind or not I don't know, but I think it had that effect.
INT: I suppose one of the thoughts behind the question is that American had been very used in the 20th century experience of total wars that brought
INT: The one decisively, totally
INT: Whereas a limited war is never quite going to be the same sort of sort of thing, so was there a sense in '53 of a limited war in Korea having been a failure as an operation?
NB: No, I don't think the Korean War as a limited war was regarded as a failure, and the United States had had experience with limited wars before in Central America. They had fought all sorts of little wars, so it wasn't an entirely new concept.
INT: Right. Let's cut there.
INT: Can I just ask you for your assessment of Syngman Rhee as a leader of the Korean people in the period '48 to '50?
NB: Syngman Rhee had been around for a long time and was regarded by many people, including many Americans, as sort of the George Washington of Korea. He'd been present at every step in the movement for independence from the Japanese. He had started most of it himself. He'd been in prison for it. He'd been thrown out of the country for it and, he had done a great service to the cause of identifying Korea as a separate country.
INT: Right. And can you tell us about your reaction when you visited in I believe it was December 1949.
INT: Your reaction to the paucity of arms that the army of the Republic of Korea had at its dispo.
NB: Well, I was really shocked at the lack of any decent armaments at all really . As part of the trip I was, Colonel Lawson, my companion on this mission, and I were taken by the commander of the first ROK army to a town called Weejungbo and Weejungbo was one of the main corridofor an invasion from North Korea to South Korea. It was where you almost had to go to get. . . and the only artillery they had were 2 old, they looked like World War I pieces of artillery, French '75 [?] type things. I think they were there's a number that went with them, I forgot. Those 2 guns were all they had to defend themselves and of course they were totally useless and they had no fighter planes, they had no tanks and they had never asked for either of those things, but they didn't have them and they were so used to being defended by, the US army that they'd forgotten that the US army wasn't gonna be there forever.