This paper derives from a larger study of the nature of Japan's relations with colonial South and Southeast Asia in the period between the Russo-Japanese War and the Pacific War. By means of a detailed examination of a single facet of Japanese-Philippine relations, it is hoped that a greater insight may be gained into the often convolute processes of the interactions between, on the one hand, the dominant Asian power of the inter-war period, and on the other hand, colonial entities and personalities still beholden to Western European or North American rulers. However, two caveats need to be put forward about this essay: (1) the case of the Philippines was unique in colonial Asia since the United States had fully committed itself to a policy of withdrawal, thus facilitating contacts between the local ruling elite and Japanese diplomats; (2) despite pre-war and wartime propaganda to the contrary, the principal concern of Japan in all its dealings with colonial South and Southeast Asia before the Pacific War was economic. In the prior instance, therefore, the paragraphs that follow will demonstrate an apparently remarkable degree of freedom of action on the part of the Filipinos in authority under the Commonwealth Administration (1935–46) in spite of the continuing legal responsibility of the United States for Philippine foreign affairs under the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie (Independence) Act of 1934. The second caveat will be evidenced by the unstinting and continuous attention of Japanese diplomats to the development of ever closer economic ties between the Philippines and Japan.