Mr. Moto is an agent of Japanese Intelligence.
It is interesting that a man who is so decidedly, unabashedly, proudly Japanese should call himself I. A. Moto since Moto is definitely not a Japanese name. He does not pretend that it is nor does he offer any explanation as to why he uses it for it is unlikely his real name. But he unhesitatingly does go by that name and everyone with whom he has dealings, at least anyone of non-Japanese nationality, thinks of him as Moto.
It is as Mr. Moto that he is known. No one ever uses a first name for him or a nickname or any sort. They either call him Mr. Moto or just Moto but nothing more familiar. The lack of familiarity is, on the surface, interesting because to anyone listening to Mr. Moto talking to the various people with whom he deals in the six adventures, Mr. Moto is undoubtedly friendly. A smile usually adorns his face. His voice is seldom raised or excited or anything other than the calm exterior he ubiquitously presents.
Once, however, a person starts to have serious dealings with Mr. Moto, the reason for the lack of closeness because fairly obvious. As agreeable and charming as he strives so hard to be seen, Mr. Moto is one incredibly tough man. Trifling with him is always a mistake.
Mr. Moto is probably in his 40s although his age is seldom considered and never spoken. He is of very short stature and considerably tiny in dimension. He is described by several people as fragile or miniscule or petite, all of which meant to show that physically he does not command much notice or consideration. He is not much to look at in the beauty department either. His teeth protrude noticeably and several are gold capped. His hands are even more delicate than his torso and his feet are described as tiny as well. His dark hair is cut in an oldfashioned Prussian cut style.
When he speaks, it is usually with a good deal of apology with an abundant use of the word "very". Mr. Moto is always "very, very sorry" or "very, very sad" or, when people agree to do what he wants, he is "very, very glad". It is interesting that he is seldom, if ever, verbally very, very angry. That might be, though, because people who made Mr. Moto angry usually would not live to tell about it.
Mr. Moto is not a violent man. He could be if he needed to be since he is an expert in judo and/or ju-jitsu. He is also said to be a deadly shot and knowledgable about all sort of weapons. But he is not prone to violence. That would indicate his normal methods failed and failure is not something Mr. Moto is that familiar with.
It is friendly diplomacy that Mr. Moto excels at. That and getting a very good idea of what the person with whom he is dealing wants or craves or needs. Then Mr. Moto can often show how doing him this one small favor or making just a tiny change in plans or waiting just a little while or acting with a bit more haste, all might make those desires come true. And it would also get Mr. Moto what his mission needs. Which makes him very, very happy.
The era in which most of the stories take place is the years half a decade before Japan would attack Pearl Harbor. Japan is in full swing in their expansionist goals with northern China, Korea, and Mongolia largely under its domination and sights are turning towards the south. The military build-up is intense and war seems a frightful possibility to a few but a horrific certainty to most.
It is the job of Mr. Moto to be a covert warrior in those plans and though he expresses a time or two a bit of worry about the militarism that is growing, he nevertheless is totally loyal to his Emperor and his doubts could easily be for the benefit of the listener rather than his true feelings. For that is another aspect of Mr. Moto that is quite fascinating. One learns a modest amount about him in conversation but when the talking is over, it is hard to determine how much is true.
He attended two different universities in America. He studied in Europe. He worked as an archaeologist. He was a valet for two different men. These are but a few of the tidbits that he mentions to various people and they may all be quite true. They could also be complete fabrications used as artifice.
That is the beauty of Mr. Moto.