Japanese sailor attacked at Solomon Islands memorial service
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Japanese sailor was attacked Monday in the Solomon Islands during a World War II memorial service that was also attended by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Radio New Zealand reported that the victim was part of a Japanese navy media team and that he was stabbed in the neck with a pair of scissors, receiving minor injuries.
The Solomon Islands government was hosting the dawn service at Bloody Ridge as part of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Radio New Zealand spoke with medics who said the sailor would require stitches but was doing well. Bloody Ridge community chief Wesley Ramo said the suspect was from a neighboring community, was under the influence and mentally unstable.
Also attending the ceremony were Makoto Oniki, Japan’s state minister of defense, and Peeni Henare, New Zealand’s defense minister.
The suspect reportedly tackled the sailor to the ground during the attack before locals and U.S. military personnel stepped in and detained him. Police then took him away and the ceremony resumed after a short break.
Commemorations are being held over three days in the Solomon Islands to mark the anniversary of the battle. Bloody Ridge is a small hill where in Sept. 1942, U.S. Marines held off a Japanese force that was attacking a military airfield.
Sherman is part of a high-profile diplomatic delegation that the the U.S. sent to the Solomons, which also includes U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy.
The trip holds a personal interest for Sherman and Kennedy, whose fathers both fought there during World War II.
Kennedy on Sunday met with the children of two Solomon men who, during the war, helped rescue her father, the late President John F. Kennedy, after his boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer.
In an emotional moment, Kennedy gave the children a replica of the coconut husk that her father had used to write a message asking for help, news organization Stuff reported.
The trip comes after the U.S. and several Pacific nations expressed deep concern about a security pact the Solomons signed with China in April, which many fear could result in a military buildup in the region.
As part of her trip, Sherman has also visited the Pacific nations of Samoa and Tonga and plans to visit Australia and New Zealand.