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Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment, practiced by members of the samurai class. Suicide by disembowelment was favoured because it was slow and painful and therefore demonstrated courage, self-control, and strong resolve. Voluntary seppuku was performed to avoid the dishonour of capture, show loyalty to one's lord by following him into death, protest against some policy of a superior, or atone for failure. Obligatory seppuku was a method of capital punishment for a samurai, who would be beheaded by a second once he had made an initial stab wound himself. Obligatory seppuku was abolished in 1873, but voluntary seppuku continued to occur. Notable 20th-century examples included those of army officer Nogi Maresuke and writer Yukio Mishima. See alsobushido.
Variants of SEPPUKU
seppuku or hara-kiri
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on seppuku, visit Britannica.com.