Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to remove small amounts of suspected fuel debris from one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as part of decommissioning work.
A meltdown occurred in 3 of the plant's 6 reactors after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
A robot is probing the containment vessels of the 3 damaged reactors before collecting the debris, a mixture of molten nuclear fuel and structural parts.
TEPCO on Thursday announced plans focusing on the No. 2 reactor, where the probe is progressing most.
The operator said it will insert a rod-shaped device into the reactor by next March to determine the hardness of the suspected fuel debris and check if it is movable.
During the next fiscal year, which starts next April, a robotic arm, equipped with camera and measurement devices, will be used to take out small amounts from the bottom of the reactor.
A submersible robot will also be sent into the containment vessel of the No.1 reactor to take out sediment samples.
TEPCO is studying ways to lower the level of water inside the containment vessel of the No. 3 unit before work to retrieve debris begins.
A crane will be used in the same unit to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool by November.