SOUTH KOREAN LEADER SEEKS SUPPORT South Korean President Kim Young Sam arrived in Japan yesterday on the first leg of a crucial week-long trip aimed at helping defuse deepening tensions over North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program. Mr. Kim will talk with Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa before flying to China tomorrow for a four-day visit. The nuclear issue is likely to dominate Kim's agenda in Japan, which has economic leverage over North Korea, and also in China, which is Pyongyang's only major ally. North Korea has refused to let UN inspectors see an installation that can produce plutonium. (See photo below.)

Banks raise loan rates

Major banks raised their prime lending rate 1/4 point to 6.25 percent the first increase in more than five years in a move that will make it more expensive for millions of consumers and businesses to borrow money. The increase came a day after the Federal Reserve moved for the second time this year to raise short-term interest rates to keep inflation in check while the economy grows stronger. The last time the prime went up was on Feb. 24, 1989, when big banks raised it from 11 percent to 11.5 percent. After that, the rate moved steadily lower and had stood at 6 percent since July 2, 1992.

Philip Morris sues ABC

Philip Morris Tobacco Companies Inc. yesterday filed a $10 billion libel lawsuit against the ABC television network for what it said were false and defamatory statements about cigarettes that are ``artificially spiked'' with nicotine. ABC's ``Day One'' program made the charge in a report about a month ago. US education standards

The House approved compromise legislation Wednesday that would create voluntary standards for what children should know and give states and local school districts money to help achieve the goals. The Goals 2000 bill authorizes $647 million for this year. Senate leaders were trying to rush the bill through before a recess that is scheduled to begin today. Clinton ratings fall

President Clinton's job approval rating has slipped 11 points in less than a month and fallen below 50 percent for the first time this year, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll released Wednesday. It attributed the drop to the Whitewater controversy and noted Clinton's standing was falling even as consumer confidence in the economy is rising. Forty-seven percent of those polled approved of the way Clinton ``is handling his job as president.'' Forty-five percent said they disapproved, while 7 percent had no opinion. Air Force crash

Sixteen people were killed and 91 injured Wednesday when two planes trying to land simultaneously at North Carolina's Pope Air Force Base collided, sending one skidding. All of the victims were on the ground. Over 500 Army paratroopers near the runway were set to begin a routine flight at the time.

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