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LEADERS of the seven richest industrial countries are hoping this week's 19th annual economic summit in Tokyo will give a badly needed lift to their country's economies and boost their own sagging approval ratings.

There is no doubt that both the global economy and the politicians' standing could use some sprucing up. Four of the seven summit countries - Japan, Germany, France and Italy - are suffering through their worst recessions in years.And the United States, Britain and Canada, the other three summit countries, are in stop-and-go recoveries that have done little so far to ease high unemployment rates.

President Clinton, anxious for a foreign policy success to bolster his own weak standing at home, heads for his first economic summit with a list of items he wants the other leaders to take up, ranging from increased financial support for Russian President Boris Yeltsin to a strategy for finally concluding long stalled world trade talks.

But the trouble is that all of the other leaders are in worse political shape than Clinton is and have shown no willingness to be seen as knuckling under to American demands.

That is particularly true for this year's host, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who has been viewed as a "dead body," the Japanese term for lame duck, since he lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote in mid-June.

The other leaders are in little better shape. French President Francois Mitterrand has faced calls for his resignation following his party's embarrassing defeat in April elections, Prime Minister John Major's approval ratings are at a record low for a British leader and Canada's first woman prime minister, Kim Campbell, comes to the summit amid questions about how her Conservative Party can survive fall elections.

"What we will have in Tokyo is a meeting of the world's strongest countries and perhaps the world's weakest leaders," said Michael Mandelbaum, a foreign policy expert at Johns Hopkins University.

Clinton, however, is doing everything he can to shake off his own low poll ratings and claim the mantle of titular head of the Group of Seven process. He has said repeatedly that America will go to the summit in its strongest position in years because his administration is tackling the federal deficit, something U.S. allies have long urged.

Just days before his departure, he let it be known that he wanted Japan and Germany, the world's two other economic superpowers, to do more to stimulate their domestic economies, declaring that "it's very hard for the United States alone to grow jobs without help from other nations."

The three-day summit will get under way Wednesday with a formal arrival ceremony at the ornate Akasaka Palace. It will follow the usual mixture of pomp, pageantry and photo ops that has become commonplace for these annual gatherings, which began in 1975 in France in response to the oil shocks that had devastated the economies of the industrial world.

While the summits have economics as their primary focus, political issues also take up considerable discussion time. This year, the ongoing crisis in Bosnia is expected to be a principal focus of Wednesday night's working dinner.

It was highly uncertain whether Clinton would enjoy any greater success in controlling the agenda than George Bush, who found increasingly that with the fall of communism and the lessening of national security concerns, America's allies have insisted on playing a more assertive role in protecting their economic interests.

That was not to say that the world could not use better economic coordination as it struggles to emerge from a global recession.

Unemployment in the industrial world is forecast to climb to nearly 36 million people by next year, an all-time high.

"Three of the great engines of the world economy, the United States, Japan and Germany, none of them is exactly giving that powerful pull out of sluggishness and recession," observed Majors.

In Clinton's view, Germany needs to cut interest rates further and Japan needs to open its markets as a way of reducing its huge trade surplus while doing more to stimulate domestic growth by boosting government spending.

While the German central bank did lower a key interest rate by one-half percentage point on Thursday, it was unlikely that it will do more because of concerns about inflationary pressures. The Japanese contend that they have already put forward a record $116 billion stimulus program and can't afford to do more.

The administration had hoped to use Clinton's trip to Tokyo to force trade concessions from Japan. It has now conceded that any trade breakthroughs with Japan probably will have to await a new government.

Still, the administration insists that if it succeeds in pressuring Japan to cut its trade surplus in half over the next three years, it would translate into an extra 1 million to 2 million jobs worldwide.

The world economy would receive an even bigger boost from a successful conclusion to the Uruguay Round of free trade talks. Economists forecast that world trade could be increased by $200 billion a year through a comprehensive trade liberalization package.

The administration believed it had hit upon a successful strategy to re-energize the talks by getting the summit countries to agree to an ambitious set of deep cuts in tariffs on a wide range of manufactured goods and services as a way of enticing developing countries to come forward with their own trade concessions.

However, France objects strenuously to this approach, and it was unclear whether trade negotiators, who are scheduled to meet in Tokyo on Tuesday, will be able to overcome last-minute obstacles.

In addition to the French objections, the United States was resisting European pressures to further cut textile tariffs while Europe was refusing American demands to cut tariffs on semiconductors and electronic goods and Japan was clinging to high tariffs to protect alcoholic-beveragemakers and its politically powerful lumber industry.

Aid to Russia also will be on the agenda and in that area the expectations were brighter given approval Thursday of a $1.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to Yeltsin's government.

For the second year, Yeltsin will join the summit discussions on the last day to give the other countries a firsthand report on his economic reform program.

The G7 countries are looking to the IMF and other international lending agencies to supply two-thirds of the West's promised $28.4 billion aid package for this year.

Clinton had hoped to up the ante by getting the other summit countries to agree to an additional $4 billion in Western support to help Russia privatize its huge state-owned industries.

But the other countries balked, citing their own budgetary problems, and the administration has been forced to accept a face-saving compromise that will likely provide Russia with a smaller $1.5 billion privatization fund.

Administration officials said they expect to be more successful with a proposal to set up a permanent G7 assistance office in Moscow to coordinate Western aid efforts.



Who's coming to the trade summit

UNITED STATES - President Bill Clinton, 46, Democrat, elected Nov. 3, 1992, term expires in 1997. A June 29 ABC-Washington Post poll shows a 43 percent overall approval rating for Clinton, down 3 points from May, with 50 percent disapproving. A June 28 New York Times-CBS poll found 50 percent approval, up from 39 percent a week earlier, before the U.S. military strike on Iraqi intelligence headquarters in retaliation for an alleged assassination plot against former President Bush.

FRANCE - President Francois Mitterrand, 76, Socialist, first elected in 1981, current term expires in 1995. Mitterrand, who suffers from prostrate cancer, has insisted he will complete his term, despite the conservative takeover of Parliament in March elections. The right now controls 80 percent of the 577 seats and have installed conservative Edouard Balladur as prime minister. April polls showed Mitterrand with a 41 percent approval rating, up from 33 percent in March. ITALY - Premier Carlo Ciampi, 72, no party affiliation, appointed April 26, 1993, by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, said he will step down once electoral reform is enacted and elections held. Ciampi succeeds former Premier Giuliano Amato, who resigned earlier in April. Ciampi, the first premier to be unaffiliated with a political party in 40 years, widened the Cabinet immediately to include seven parties, including former communists. Though widely respected, a no-confidence vote could oust him at any time.

GERMANY - Chancellor Helmut Kohl, 63, Christian Democrat, first elected in 1982, term expires in 1994. Kohl has announced he will run for re-election but will likely be challenged by, among others, a newly created far-right Republican party. Kohl's popularity has been damaged by attacks on foreigners and a recession caused by the high cost of unification with the former East Germany.

JAPAN - Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, 73, Liberal Democratic Party, elected in 1991, lost a parliamentary no-confidence vote on June 18, forcing new elections. Miyazawa's party, which has ruled Japan for 38 years, is being challenged by an alternative conservative party as well as the leftist Democratic Socialists. CANADA - Prime Minister Kim Campbell, 46, Progressive Conservative Party, appointed by a party convention on June 13, took office on June 25 as Canada's first woman prime minister. She must call national elections before November. She has reduced the number of Cabinet ministers in an effort to distance herself from former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Recent polls show the Conservatives trailing the opposition Liberal Democrats 36 percent to 41 percent.

BRITAIN - Prime Minister John Major, 50, Conservative Party, elected in April 1992, term expires in 1997. A June poll showed 21 percent satisfied with Major's performance, a record low since polling began in Britain in the 1930s. Low public opinion is based almost solely on the persistence of Britain's recession, the longest in postwar history, which has forced Major to announce new taxes. RUSSIA - President Boris Yeltsin, 62, Communist, elected in 1991, term expires in 1996. The first popularly elected Russian ruler, the embattled Yeltsin has been pushing for a new constitution to replace the Congress of People's Deputies, the parliament formed under Communist Russia. Yeltsin's critics, led by parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov and Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, oppose his far-reaching economic reforms and contend he is leading the country toward a dictatorship.