A deadly nerve gas attack in Tokyo more than a decade ago alerted the world to international terrorism and made a Colorado State University professor into a hero in Japan.
Anthony Tu — now an emeritus professor of biochemistry at CSU — became famous for helping Japanese authorities track down the source of sarin nerve gas attacks in two Japanese cities, including Tokyo, in 1994 and 1995.
His work with police was celebrated through the media and academia. Finally, this month, the 79-year-old Tu received recognition from the Japanese emperor for his accomplishments.
Tu was bestowed The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by Japanese Emperor Akihito on Nov. 9. Tu was one of 61 individuals, including 10 U.S. citizens, to receive the honor.
Tu’s primary research has been on snake venom. But he also was interested in chemical warfare and published papers on the subject just before the 1994 nerve-gas attack in Matsumoto that killed seven people and poisoned 500 others.
Police asked Tu for help with that case and with the ensuing sarin-gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 12 and injured about 3,800 more.
At the time, the Japanese — like much of the world — knew little about the implications of a mass attack of sarin gas.
“Japan was in a big uproar at the time because no one had ever heard of sarin gas,” Tu said.
Tu assisted Japanese officials in analyzing the sarin and its byproducts to identify the manufacturing facility where the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo produced 70 tons of the deadly nerve gas.