Colorado State Professor Honored by Japan for Help Solving ’90s Sarin Gas Attacks

Note to Reporters: A photo of Emeritus Professor Anthony Tu is available with the news release at

Anthony Tu’s expertise about a deadly nerve gas helped the Japanese identify and catch suspects in the sarin gas attacks in the 1990s – assistance that has now earned him one of the nation’s highest honors.

On Nov. 9, the Japanese Emperor bestowed the Colorado State University emeritus professor with the distinction of The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. Tu, 79, was one of 61 individuals including 10 U.S. citizens to receive the honor this fall. Past recipients have included some of the world’s most prominent academics, politicians and authors. Actor Clint Eastwood accepted the same medal earlier this year for his movies on the Battle of Iwo Jima.

“This is a well-deserved honor for Professor Tu, who has been devoted to both basic and applied science for his entire career,” said Rick Miranda, interim provost and executive vice president at Colorado State University. “This is indicative of the impact our professors are having around the globe.”

“This prestigious award recognizes the contributions of basic science to some truly practical and timely issues on the world stage,” said Shing Ho, chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Colorado State.

Tu, a biochemistry professor whose research focused on snake venom, published papers in Japan on chemical warfare just before the Matsumoto attack in 1994 that killed seven people and poisoned 500 others. Police asked Tu for help with the case and the ensuing nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995 that killed 12 and injured about 3,800 more.

Japanese officials used Tu’s assistance to analyze the sarin and its byproducts to identify the manufacturing facility where the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo produced 70 tons of the deadly nerve gas. Tu’s knowledge of chemicals produced from the degradation of sarin in soils was instrumental in linking Aum Shinrikyo definitively with the manufacture and use of sarin, evidence that helped convict the sect’s leader, Shoko Asahara, who was later sentenced to be hanged.

Tu wrote a book about the experience in 2002 titled “Chemical Terrorism: Horrors in Tokyo Subway and Matsumoto City.”

He has received numerous awards for his efforts in Japan including a medal of honor from the National Institute of Police Science and the certificate of Honorary Membership from the Japanese Society of Forensic Toxicology. He currently is the only foreign member of this organization.