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 was stabbed in the neck with scissors, receiving minor injuries.

The Solomon Islands government was organizing the dawn service at Bloody Ridge as part of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Radio New Zealand spoke to doctors who said the sailor would need stitches but was doing well. Bloody Ridge Community Chief Wesley Ramo said the suspect was from a neighboring community, under the influence and mentally unstable.

Also attending the ceremony were Makoto Oniki, Minister of State for Defense of Japan, and Peeni Henare, Minister of Defense of New Zealand.

The suspect reportedly attacked the sailor on the ground during the attack before locals and US military personnel intervened and arrested him. The police then took him away and the ceremony resumed after a short break.

Commemorations are held over three days in the Solomon Islands to mark the anniversary of the battle. Bloody Ridge is a small hill where in September 1942, US Marines held off a Japanese force attacking a military airfield.

Sherman is part of a high-profile diplomatic delegation the United States sent to the Solomons, which also includes the US ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy.

The trip holds personal interest for Sherman and Kennedy, whose parents fought there during World War II.

Kennedy met Sunday with the sons of two Solomon men who, during the war, helped rescue their father, the late President John F. Kennedy, after his ship was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer.

In an emotional moment, Kennedy gave the children a replica of the coconut shell their father had used to write a message asking for help, news organization Stuff reported.

The trip comes after the United States and several Pacific nations expressed deep concern over a security pact the Solomons signed with China in April, which many fear could lead to a military buildup in the region.

As part of his trip, Sherman has also visited the Pacific nations of Samoa and Tonga and plans to visit Australia and New Zealand.

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