In what is dubbed “the last chance” for Japan to raise its academic output to the same level as its overseas peers, the government is set to make a huge investment in a select group of universities through a ¥10 trillion endowment fund.

While many scientists and policymakers agree that Japan’s universities need a big influx of cash to compete globally, whether the investment pays off hinges on how much universities can reform their stifling and inefficient research and management cultures, experts say.

Despite being the world’s third-largest economy and producing the second-most Nobel Prize laureates in natural science fields this century, Japan has seen its research strength, particularly in natural sciences, slide over the last few decades.