February 7, 2023

Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) – A Japanese sailor was attacked Monday in the Solomon Islands during a World War II memorial service that was also attended by US 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 scissors, causing him minor injuries.

The Solomon Islands government was hosting the Dawn Mass in Bloody Ridge as part of the celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Radio New Zealand spoke with medics who said the sailor would need stitches but it was working fine. Wesley Rameau, president of the Bloody Ridge community, said the suspect was from a nearby community, was under the influence and mentally unstable.

The ceremony was also attended by Makoto Oniki, Japan’s Minister of State for Defense, and Benny Hanari, New Zealand’s Minister of Defense.

The suspect reportedly walked on seas land during the attack before members of local residents and the US military intervened and detained him. Then the police took him away and the ceremony resumed after a short break.

Celebrations are held over three days in the Solomon Islands to commemorate the battle. Bloody Ridge is a small hill where in September 1942 the US Marines stopped a Japanese force that was attacking a military airfield.

Sherman is part of a high-ranking diplomatic delegation sent by the United States to the Solomon Islands, which also houses the US ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy.

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

On Sunday, Kennedy met the children of two Solomon men who helped during the war to save her father, the late President John F. Kennedy, after his boat rammed and sank a Japanese destroyer.

Stuff News reports that in an emotional moment, Kennedy gave the children a replica of the coconut husk that her father had used to write a letter asking for help.

The visit comes after the United States and several Pacific countries expressed deep concerns about a security agreement The Solomon Islands 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 nations of Samoa and Tonga and plans to visit Australia and New Zealand.

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