Jun Akiyama wrote:
On the topic of "aikido is love," the founder himself has said things like, "the path of aikido is the path of protecting love," "the path of aiki is the manifestation of love," and "true aikido is 'love'." (First two quotes from "Takemusu Aiki" and the last quote from "Aikido" (thanks, Peter!) both translated from the original Japanese by me.) The character used for "love" is, indeed, 愛. Personally, I'm far from understanding what this really means, so I can't say much about this topic.
I've never been exactly sure how to handle some of the things O-Sensei did toward the end of his life. He was emotionally erratic, often irrascible, and treated with kid-gloves because of his temper outbursts (not always was he like this, but enough so that it was a common conversation). He awarded a woman dance teacher a 10th dan in Aikido and was seen in public demonstrations with her... notice how it's very difficult to find any mention of this in the literature. In other words, there was a certain amount of behavior and pronouncements that most of the Japanese surrounding O-Sensei sort of studiously avoid talking about.
So when it gets down to the "Aikido is Love" part, I would have several questions about it, if I wanted to be sure I understood what he was talking about. First of all, I'd want to be sure that the "love" translation really equates to the concept of "love" that westerners are thinking about when they hear that term. Secondly, I'd want to know how old he was when he made that pronouncement. Thirdly, I'd look at the uchi-deshi of the time and see how much their training focuses on and mentions "Aikido is love".... if it's not a big factor in what they say or train, then I wouldn't put a lot of weight onto the "Aikido is love" idea.