Just for the record...I did 9 years of weapons training when I first started Aikido. Basically various Jo, Bokken and Tanto techniques and was in a lot of demonstrations with weapons. I attended weapons classes and enjoyed them.
Since I came to Japan 12 years ago I found that we did NOT practice weapons at the hombu dojo. They were there to illustrate some points, or for fun, but there are no weapons classes and very, very seldom are they pulled off the rack. We do use them for for san-nin dori and for futari-dori when training for nidan and above.
That being said, any time one of the hombu teachers does pick a weapon up it looks natural and strong in their hands.
So...what does this say? My Aikido has vastly improved since I have been in Japan and it was done without weapons. Perhaps I am wrong and you do need weapons, but my personal experience is that I didn't. Also...it would seem that the hombu dojo made this decision for some reason or other...of course they could be wrong as well.
Training with intent and focus can be done without a weapon in hand. If you cannot train that way maybe you should train harder and not use weapons as a crutch (oops...did I say that? LOL).
Seriously...this is a discussion about whether it is necessary or not. I don't see it as being necessary and I would much rather learn how to be focused and intent without the aid of weapons than with. There are enough techniques within the Aikido framework without weapons for me to spend the next 50 years working on without diluting them by cross-training with weapons
I have no problem with training weapons. I think there are lots of good that can be learned from them...but again...necessary....my vote is "no".