Rep. Johnson worries that the island of Guam will ‘tip over and capsize’ if U.S. troops relocate there.

Due to increasing Japanese unease with the stationing of U.S. troops in Okinawa, U.S. Pacific Command plans to shift thousands of soldiers from the Japanese territory to the U.S. territory of Guam. Last week, Admiral Robert Willard testified before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the plan. At one point, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) raised his concerns that the island was “at its widest level…twelve miles from shore to shore,” and then, with his hands outstretched to demonstrate, worried aloud that relocating troops to the island would cause it to “become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize”:

JOHNSON: This is an island that at its widest level is what twelve miles from shore to shore, and at its smallest level location its seven miles between one shore and the other. Is that correct? […] My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.

While visibly stifling his laughter, the admiral replied, “We don’t anticipate that.” Watch it:


Johnson subsequently released a statement saying that he “wasn’t suggesting that the island of Guam would literally tip over,” but was using a “metaphor” about its “fragile ecosystem” and “overstressed infrastructure.”