KOBE — A group of Kobe citizens opposed to the construction of Kobe airport presented two petitions to two government agencies in Tokyo, urging that the city’s request to reclaim land for the project not be approved.

One petition with 35,000 signatures was presented to the Transport Ministry and Environment Agency. Several members of the group also had a brief meeting with Transport Minister Jiro Kawasaki. The other petition, with about 33,000 signatures, was presented to Environment Agency officials.

Activists began collecting signatures in January, several weeks after the Kobe Municipal Government voted down a proposal for a plebiscite on the controversial issue. Last fall, nearly 350,000 people, including 307,000 voters, signed a petition calling for plebiscite.

In Tokyo, the activists asked the Transport Ministry not to grant permission for the airport because the project had not received the consent of local voters. The group asked the Environment Agency to refuse the project on the grounds that the construction would cause damage to marine life in the bay.

The city submitted a request in January to both agencies to begin landfill operations. Officials hope to actually begin building the artificial island in July. The airport is expected to open in 2005.

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