"I wish to apologize to the Japanese people for having betrayed their expectations," says Yukio Hatoyama halfway through our interview, lowering his head and bowing deeply.

Hatoyama, prime minister for nine months of the Democratic Party of Japan's three years in power between 2009 and 2012, is discussing the reasons behind his resignation in June 2010 — specifically, his failure to live up to his party's promise to block the contentious U.S. Marine Corps base construction now underway at Henoko in Okinawa.

Recently, the former DPJ leader has been in the news for other mea culpas in Nanjing and Seoul — apologies made, he says, on behalf of Japanese for colonial-era crimes in Asia. These unsanctioned trips have incensed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which has painted Hatoyama as a charlatan and even a traitor for his foreign escapades.