March 17, 2009Washington Post (among other media) reported that Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wanted AIG execs to commit hara kiri, or seppuku -- the traditional Japanese ritual suicide often depicted as an honorable course of action from samurai times.
Sen. Charles Grassley suggested in an Iowa City radio interview on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility by resigning or killing themselves. "Obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," the Iowa Republican said. "But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I'm sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide." Grassley spokesman Casey Mills said the senator wasn't calling for AIG executives to kill themselves, but said those who accept tax dollars and spend them on travel and bonuses do so irresponsibly.When I first heard about this, my jaw clenched but I let it pass. Seppuku was a historical reality for centuries, after all, and it's depicted in lots of Japanese pop culture, including movies and books. It's been documented as a reflection of one of Japan's driving cultural values, shame.