After several weeks of sidestepping and false answers, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi finally admitted Thursday that he did not pay into the public pension system for an eight-month period in 1969 and 1970, despite being required to make such payments.

Koizumi’s comments contradicted both his and his secretary’s earlier statements that he “has paid premiums during the periods he was obligated to.”

“Now that you pointed out that it was obligatory, I think, after all, it might have been obligatory,” Koizumi said in response to a question from Takashi Yamamoto, a Democratic Party of Japan member. “I hadn’t realized that at all at that time.”

Not joining the pension system “was all due to my ignorance,” the prime minister said Thursday during a welfare committee session of the House of Councilors.

Koizumi’s secretary initially insisted that Koizumi was not required to pay national pension scheme premiums for the eight months, beginning in August 1969, when he returned from studying in London because he was still thinking of returning — even though Koizumi ran unsuccessfully for the Diet during the same period.

However, the secretary has since admitted that Koizumi was registered as a resident of his hometown, Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, both during and after his stay in London, which meant that he was obligated to make payments.