A Japanese government task force in charge of drawing up decommissioning policies for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the removal of fuel debris will start with the No. 2 reactor in 2021.
The task force met at the prime minister's office on Monday to compile its fifth version of the decommissioning schedule.
Its members updated the plan to remove debris from the No.1 to No.3 reactors, which suffered meltdowns. This is regarded as the biggest hurdle in the decommissioning process.
The team factored into its plan advice offered in September by the government's Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation.
The corporation, which studies technical policies, said removal should start with the No.2 reactor because most is known about its interior conditions compared with the other reactors.
The economy ministry had initially presented a plan to collect samples twice using robots before starting the removal.
But the ministry now says it will postpone that plan and instead prepare for the procedure by training robots more carefully using a model of the meltdown site.
The task force also presented for the first time a plan to complete the removal of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pools of the No.1 to No.6 reactors by the end of 2031.
There was no change to the deadline to complete the whole decommissioning process, which has been set at between 2041 and 2051.
The latest government plan will be officially approved after local governments and other parties are asked for their opinions on it.
The task force reviews the decommissioning plan once every two years. It is headed by the economy and industry minister.