CHICAGO (CBS) — An Asian affairs specialist from Northwestern University says economics will ensure there will be more words, but likely no bullets, flying between China and Japan as they continue arm-wrestling over five uninhabited islands.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the week saw a mile-long protest by Chinese outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Thousands more Japanese protestors also demonstrated outside Chinese offices and factories in Tokyo – all over ownership of the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Katrin Katz, a doctoral student at Northwestern who previously served as director of Japanese-Korean Affairs for the National Security Council, says while things can happen, economics likely precludes a shooting war.

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“Economic interdependence between these two countries is high, and today, that figure is around $345 billion in two-way trade between Japan and China,” Katz said.

Katz says Japan is China’s second largest trading partner, while China is Japan’s largest trading partner by far.

She says when it comes to the Senkaku Islands, the essential dispute between he country is over deep sea oil and gas reserves in the East China sea surrounding the islands.

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She says when political pressures ease, China and Japan will have a better chance at reaching a negotiated settlement over rights to the oil, gas and fish in the disputed territory to which both nations lay claim.