Colorado State Toxicology Expert Releases Book About the Science and Culture of Terroritst Attacks in Japan

Note to Editors: Anthony Tu is available to discuss chemical terrorism, biological warfare, protection against toxic substances and related topics. To arrange an interview, call Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545.

A Colorado State University professor and renowned expert in toxicology has written a book describing two terrorist attacks in Japan, detailing how chemicals were used and how the country’s cultural and political climate hindered the prevention of the second deadly incident. In the aftermath of Sep. 11, the book’s author stresses that examining these incidents could help other nations prepare for, or even prevent, similar attacks.

"There are no boundaries for chemical and biological terrorism, and we can learn from the incidents in Japan," said Anthony Tu, the book’s author and professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Colorado State. "We all hope that chemical and biological terrorism will be eliminated from the earth. But until then, we can better prepare for future attacks by understanding the circumstances surrounding the Japanese attacks."

"Chemical Terrorism: Horrors in Tokyo Subway and Matsumoto City" recently was released by publisher Alaken Inc. Tu’s newest book details a sarin attack in Matsumoto in 1994 that killed seven people and poisoned 500 others and the second related nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway one year later that killed 12 and injured about 3,800 more.

Tu was well known in Japan as an expert in chemical warfare agents before 1994 due to a series of articles he wrote for the country’s Japanese Chemistry and Chemistry Today journals, as well as two Japanese books he authored regarding toxicology.

Shortly after the attack at Matsumoto, at the request of a Chemistry Today publisher, Tu wrote an article to inform the Japanese public about sarin. The article quickly became the most widely read in Japan at the time, and soon after it was printed, the Japanese police enlisted Tu’s help in examining the case.

Japanese officials used Tu’s assistance to analyze the sarin and identify the manufacturing facility where the deadly nerve gas was being produced. However, Tu believes police were too cautious and did not make optimal use of the information.

"The Japanese police knew the Aum Shinrikyo sect was manufacturing sarin four months before the Tokyo subway attack," Tu said. "I think the subway incident probably would not have happened if the authorities had been more open with their information."

After the Tokyo attack, Tu again assisted Japanese officials with their investigation. He aided police in linking Aum Shinrikyo definitively with the manufacture and use of sarin, evidence that helped convict the sect’s leader, Shoko Asahara.

Tu was presented a medal of honor from the National Institute of Police Science for his assistance with the case. He was additionally awarded a certificate of Honorary Membership from the Japanese Society of Forensic Toxicology and is the only foreign member allowed into the organization. In March 2001, Tu published a Japanese book encompassing an overall view of chemical and biological weapons.

Tu is well known as an expert of chemical terrorism and biological warfare well beyond the borders of Japan. He was recently a keynote speaker at the Seventh International Symposium on Protection Against Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents in Stockholm. In May, he will give the keynote speech at the Japanese Society of Trauma in Tokyo regarding the prevention of biological weapons. In December, he will be a keynote speaker at the Singapore International Symposium on Protection against Toxic Substances and present a discussion on the use of chemicals and toxins as terrorist weapons in the wake of Sep. 11.

Tu also assisted the United States military with biological weapons defense during the Cold War and is a consultant to Jane’s Information Group of the United Kingdom, which publishes military books and magazines. Tu has written dozens of papers and books and has given lectures throughout the United States and in more than 20 other countries.