Seppuku, “belly-cutting”, is a form of ritual suicide by disembowelment. Originally, it was exclusively carried out by Japanese samurai. The act of seppuku was used as a way to die voluntarily with honor rather than by the hand of the enemy. Additionally, it was used as a form of atonement for those who had brought great shame upon themselves and their family. Sometimes the act of seppuku was ordered to be carried out as capital punishment for samurai who had committed a major offense. This series of photos from World War II depicts a Japanese officer in the act of seppuku. While it is unclear who this man was or what offense he committed, it is obvious from the soldier holding him at gunpoint that this instance of seppuku was carried out involuntarily.
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