Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, in a television interview broadcast here last night, said that he opposes the Carter administration's plan to withdraw United States troops from South Korea.
He said the withdrawal could result in damage because there is a "high risk" that it could be misunderstood by North Korea.
Kissinger said he could not see how the troop withdrawal could contain any benefits for the United States.
The former secretary of state was interviewed recently in Chicago by one of Japan's most prominent television news commentators Hisanori Isomura. The film was broadcast last night by Japan's National Broadcasting Company, NHK.
While in office, Kissinger consistently opposed attempts to scale down the U.S. military presence in South Korea on the grounds that "it would be destabilizing." Melvin Laird, secretary of defense under President Nixon from 1969 to 1972, has said that he started a withdrawal program the would have had all U.S. troops out of South Korea by 1976 but that it was not carried out because of Kissinger's objections.
The Carter adminsitartion's decision to withdraw ground forces from South Korea was initially a shock to Japan when it was announced last year, and there is still some concern here that it represents a lessening of the American commitment to defend both countries.
The first contingents are to be withdrawn sometime this summer.
Kissinger was almost apologetic in staking out a position opposed to President Carter's
"It is a point, in which, with all my general desire to be supportive of the administration, I do not agree wit them," he said.
"I believe that the withdrawal of troops from Korea runs a high risk of being misunderstood by the other side. I can see little good it does, and some damage. Maybe it won't do any damage, but I do not see the benefit that we get from it."
Kissinger also cautioned the Japanese againts any moves to abandon the security treaty which commits the United States to its defense. That objection is occasionally raised by both nationalists and leftists in Japan, but it is not the volatile political issue it was in the 1960s.
Kissinger said it would be a "grave mistake" for Japan to give up the treaty because it would then be faced with two choices.
"It would either become the victim of more powerful neighbors, or it would have to arm itself so that it could defend itself against these neighbors," he said.