Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested that AIG executives should accept responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.
The Republican lawmaker's harsh comments came during an interview Monday with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.
"I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed," Grassley 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.
"And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."
Japanese executives often take responsibility for scandals within their companies by issuing public apologies on camera and stepping down. It is rare, however, that business executives have gone so far as to take their lives. In feudal Japan, ritual suicide was considered an honorable death under the samurai warrior ethic.
In response to the comment, AIG spokesman Nick Ashooh said, "The remark is very disappointing, but AIG's employees continue to work with poise and professionalism to take of policyholders and repay taxpayers."