WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A Japanese sailor was attacked Monday in the Solomon Islands during a World War II memorial service also attended by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Radio New Zealand reported that the victim was part of a Japanese naval media team and had been stabbed in the neck with scissors, sustaining minor injuries.
The government of the Solomon Islands organized the dawn service on Bloody Ridge as part of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Radio New Zealand spoke to medics who said the sailor needed stitches but was doing well. Wesley Ramo, the head of the Bloody Ridge community, said the suspect was from a neighboring community, was intoxicated and mentally unstable.
The ceremony was also attended by Makoto Oniki, Japan’s defense minister, and New Zealand’s defense minister Peeni Henare.
The suspect reportedly tackled the sailor to the ground during the attack before locals and the US military intervened and detained him. Police then took him away and the ceremony resumed after a short break.
In the Solomon Islands, commemorations are held over three days to mark the anniversary of the battle. Bloody Ridge is a small hill where, in September 1942, US Marines stopped a Japanese force attacking a military airfield.
Sherman is part of a high-profile diplomatic delegation that the US sent to the Solomons, including US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy.
The trip has a personal significance for Sherman and Kennedy, whose fathers both fought there during World War II.
Kennedy on Sunday met the children of two Solomon men who helped rescue her father, the late President John F. Kennedy, during the war 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 her father had used to write a message asking for help, news organization Stuff reported.
The trip comes after the US and several Pacific countries expressed deep concern over a security pact the Solomons signed with China in April, which many fear could lead to a military build-up in the region.
As part of her trip, Sherman has also visited the Pacific countries of Samoa and Tonga and plans to visit Australia and New Zealand.