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JAPANESE BANK DEAL IN JEOPARDY

A compromise plan to resuscitate Japan's troubled banking system appeared to be unraveling today, as ruling and opposition party leaders publicly fought over just what was agreed upon.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi struck the banking bill deal with opposition parties late last week as he prepared to leave for his first summit with U.S. President Clinton.

Obuchi is hoping to cite the deal as evidence Japan is making progress in cleaning up its bad loan mess when he confers with Clinton on Tuesday.

But whether he will be able to do that looked questionable today, as sharp disputes emerged over exactly what had been agreed to in several key areas of the proposed package.

Fears the deal might collapse sent Japanese stock prices spiraling down to a new 12-year low today.

At issue is the fate of the ailing Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan Ltd. and other lenders staggering under the weight of soured loans, many of which were extended before Japan's economy entered a prolonged slump nearly 10 years ago.

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