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On behalf of civic group members in Kobe, writer Yasuo Tanaka met reporters Wednesday in Tokyo to call for a plebiscite over the planned construction of an airport in Kobe.

“More than 300,000 signatures have been collected from Kobe citizens seeking an ordinance to hold a plebiscite on the proposed airport.

A Kobe Municipal Assembly session convening today is expected to discuss the issue, although the number of supporters of the project reportedly exceeds that of opponents in the assembly. “The Kobe airport issue is a regional matter. But this is an example that must be considered in the broader context of public works projects. And this is a movement by individual citizens,” Tanaka said.

Also present at the news conference were composer Shigeaki Saegusa and singer Kikusuimaru Kawachiya. Tanaka’s group doubts the wisdom of building a Kobe airport, because the Kansai region already has two major airports and because the municipal government has 3 trillion yen in bonds outstanding.

Kobe plans to begin construction on the domestic airport, which is to have a 2,500-meter runway, on a 272-hectare artificial island as early as next summer.

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