Saito comes to Cobb with a long-term specific notion of what he wants; he wants Cobb to infiltrate the mind of a competitor and plant the idea of breaking up his father’s global corporation into separate pieces, so he can turn a profit. Saito trusts them to come up with the way of doing this, but takes an avid interest in each step of the process, even insisting he wants to be present throughout the dream states so that he can make sure it all goes according to plan. Incompetence doesn’t impress him, and he initially insults Cobb by insinuating that his dream world is not nearly as intricately-designed as he might think. He has financial motives for everything he does, and also is a man of his word; he promises Cobb the charges will go away against him in his wife’s murder if he can accomplish this. When they attempt to figure out how to waylay someone, and consider buying off the flight attendants, Saito confesses that he “bought the entire airline… it seemed neater.” He focuses on the idea of trade which is Te-specific: in exchange for money or favors, this is what I want, and offers Cobb something he knows will be meaningful to him (his freedom). Saito knows that because this is illegal, he has no recourse in the legal system if Cobb breaks his agreement, or claims he planted the information and it just did not take, and he would have to wait a long time to find out for sure (since it would take time to break up a corporation), so he insists on going along to hold Cobb accountable and observe their interactions every step of the way. Saito is a man of his word who does not intend to cheat Cobb, and keeps his promises. When Saito assumes the risk to be minimal (if you die in a dream, you wake up in reality), he insists on going with them deeper into the dream states—not realizing Cobb has deceived him and could get them both lost in limbo, if any harm befalls him. And it does. He’s shot, because he cannot react fast enough to his environment.

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Saito originally hires them to break up the corporation because he fears the long-term consequences of leaving an inept young man, without his father’s business sense, in charge of a global industry. He has no faith in the young man’s business sense, or the long-term consequences of his decisions (as is proven through his naïve approach to life, and being emotionally led in the dream world). He also is distrustful of Cobb and wants to make sure he keeps his word, so he insists on going along and tracking each move they make, to ensure he gets his money’s worth. He assumes that he will be safe in the dream world, and that there is no personal danger to him (which is not the case). When Cobb turns up many years later, after Saito has spent fifty years lost in his mind, he assumes Cobb has come to kill him. Only when he rationalizes his way through what has happened is he able to move forward out of Limbo and return to the real world, with seemingly no long-term consequences. Saito has some confidence in his own abilities, trusts his own logic, and approaches others skeptical of their intentions; he is a creative thinker, in how he decides to use Inception (a concept he’s aware of but that is dangerous and illegal) to get what he wants.