As saber-rattling in the South China Sea increases, more trade could help to ease regional tension, according to IHS Senior Consultant for Country Risks Amarjit Singh.
"It creates the room for more dialogue and increases the costs if any of the countries try to provoke aggression. The deeper you're linked economically, the higher the costs of any aggression or threat of aggression," he said.
Any sort of conflict would inflict a heavy cost on the economies involved, and all sides would obviously "work hard to avoid it", he added.
The South China Sea is home to rich fishing grounds and untapped seams of oil and natural gas. It's also a busy sea lane, with half the world's trade and 80 percent of crude oil supplies passing through its waters.
China has claimed the entire patch stretching from the tropical island of Hainan, through to waters off the coast of Malaysia but its claims have been contested by neighboring countries.
An opportunity for Japan
While the U.S. does not take sides in the territorial disputes, it has repeatedly stated its desire to see a multilateral resolution that maintains free passage through the South China Sea, and has expressed support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent offer to take a "greater and more proactive role" in regional security.
Singh says that Japan will use its "financial wherewithal" to push for greater geopolitical strength and to ensure that it has "special relationships" in the region.