The traditional Japanese form of honorable suicide, also known by its Chinese equivalent, seppuku
. It was practiced by the Japanese feudal warrior class in order to avoid falling into enemy hands. Around 1500, it became a privileged alternative to execution, granted to daimyo and samurai
guilty of disloyalty to the emperor. The condemned man received a jeweled dagger from the emperor. He selected as his second a faithful friend, received official witnesses, and plunged the dagger into the left side of his abdomen, drew it across to the right, and made a slight cut upward; his second then beheaded him with one stroke of a sword, and the dagger was returned to the emperor. Around 1700, it became permissible to go through a semblance of disembowelment prior to beheading. Voluntary hara-kiri was resorted to after a private misfortune, out of loyalty to a dead master, or to protest the conduct of a living superior. 1
Obligatory hara-kiri was abolished in 1868, but its voluntary form has persisted. It was performed by 40 military men in 1895 as a protest against the return of conquered territory, the Liaotung peninsula, to China; by General Nogi on the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912; and by numerous soldiers as an alternative to surrender in World War II.
Blah. Bite me. And the hara-kiri.