Born in 1841 in present Konaka-chou, Sano and married at the age of 22. Started his political career in l878 when he was elected to the Tochigi and was elected to the first Diet in 1890. He soon became involved in fighting pollution of the fertile Watarase River Valley by the copper mine in the Asio Mountains.
Tanaka called on the government to order the mines closure but the government took little notice . In 1901 he resigned from the Diet in disgust at its indifference to his appeals. Later he tried to make a direct petition to the Emperor. He was arrested but soon released.
Against the government decision to create he reservoir on Yanaka village, Tanaka led the villagers in the resistance to the scheme. The village was demolished in 1907. The last great effort of his life was to expound the need for man to respect the natural environment if he was to survive. He died on September 4, l913. Thousands of mourners attended his funeral.