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Is Japan’s new baseball record a home run for Abenomics?

Outfielder Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Jiji Press | AFP | Getty Images
Outfielder Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

For some Japan watchers, there was one event this week even more important than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to proceed with a national sales tax hike: a baseball game.

On Sunday, Japanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh's single-season record of 55 home runs was broken by a foreigner, Curaçaoan native Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

Why should investors care?

Japanese fans were rooting for a foreigner to break the sacred sports record, signaling a change in psyche for the world's third-largest economy, according to Ed Rogers, CEO of Rogers Investment Advisors, a Tokyo-based hedge funds adviser.

(Read more: Japan extends lucky streak on unlucky day)

"Over most of the last five decades, Sadaharu Oh's record of 55 home runs in one season was religiously protected by Japanese baseball. Anytime a foreigner threatened to break that record, he would be taken out of the game.Non-Japanese were not given a chance to break the record," said Rogers.

If fans are breaking with history to root for foreign players, could that be interpreted as a sign of national openness to policy reforms as Tokyo tries to shake off its 20-year old deflationary funk?

(Read more: Feeling good: Japan business sentiment soars)

Rogers thinks so: "This is a really important change of mindset. A lot of what Abe-san is trying to do is change the mindset in Japan, much like Reagan tried to do many years ago in America," he said.

For Japan, sports play a great role in the national psyche. Last month, Tokyo's victory to host the 2020 Summer Olympics was widely seen as the ideal means for realizing Abe's "Japan is Back" strategy.

Embracing foreigners is also a vital element of "Abenomics" with the Prime Minister pledging to lure more skilled foreign workers into the labor force. Recruiting experts Hays stated that 37 percent of 200 employers surveyed plan to hire more foreign workers, according to a press release dated September 25.

"While it is still early days, employers do expect to see an increase in overall hiring activity as a result of Abenomics," said Jonathan Sampson,regional director of Hays in Japan.

(Watch now: Abenomics making Japan stocks attractive: Pro)

Reading the signs

Sunday's baseball match also serves as a 'reading the tea leaves' moment for long-term Japan investors.

Most foreigners look to Western commentary for clues on interpreting the Japanese market, Ed Rogers said. Instead, he thinks they should be looking for clues on how to read Japanese mentality in order to understand when it is time for reform.

Using the Nikkei's 2 percent sell-off on Wednesday as an example, he said that while markets seemed disappointed with the lack of details on Abe's stimulus package, it really means there are more negotiations going on in the background to confirm what specific measures the government will take.

(Read more: What happened to a weak yen?)

"That's a typical Japanese approach. [Lawmakers] want to have everybody on board before they announce what the change is going to be. We're less concerned about the lack of specifics, we think conversations are ongoing," he continued

— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

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