Summit of the Walking Wounded

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NEW YORK: It was hobbled-world-leader-summit time again, as President Clinton and Japanese prime minister Obuchi met Tuesday in New York. And while Clinton was doubtless prepared to touch on issues such as North Korea, if only to be polite, Topic A of Tuesday's summit was expected to be -- you guessed it -- Japan's moribund economy.

"It's been topic A for five years now," says TIME business editor Bill Saporito: "Getting Japan to do something -- anything -- about the $1 trillion in bad loans that have paralyzed the banking system." And although Japanese investors were hopeful, boosting the Nikkei by 1.42 percent Tuesday and bolstering the yen's value against the dollar, the Dow, which at midday languished 50 points in the red, indicated no such optimism. "Japan is a consensus society -- it takes a long time to accomplish anything," says Saporito. "Clinton and Obuchi can have all the summits they want, but the work to be done is in Japan, not New York."