Peter A Goldsbury
Why did you call it a dumb question?
Well, I say dumb, because it is essentially the naive response to his communication -- that he simply meant what he said. I note right off the bat that does not imply necessarily grasping immediately the meaning of what he did say.
Leaving aside the doe-eyed hagiographer perspective (which is distasteful for many reasons) there seems two other more critical (and one of them distinctly less charitable) schools of thought on the matter. These days, it seems like the more critical the approach, the more it is approved of as clever, and the more clever something is reputed to be, the more likely to be right. There is a series of logical fallacies in that statement, but it is not that hard to find people who operate from such postures these days, explicitly or implicitly, and on these and other topics.
Your approach for what it is worth is more in the "Joe Friday" "just the facts, ma'am" school, although the facts that you choose to examine seem to lean one way or the other at times. If you have a bias in this regard it is hinted at, only. My job is to deal in hints, so please forgive if I read too much in and take it for what is intended, as a point of observation, only, of the larger discussions ongoing.
The more charitable critical view seems to believe or to use as an operating thesis that he did NOT intend to to communicate anything useful in his communications, and that they were for him like honeycomb to bees. He did it because he could not do anything else. To ask the bee what the comb means is a foolish inquiry. "He could not possibly mean such a thing; therefore, he is deluded/demented/confused by his mystical enthusiasm." In its stronger version this approaches an idiot savant
hypothesis, a superlatively gifted and yet quaintly limited sort of individual.
The less charitable thesis seems to make the hinge of the war conversion a stalking horse for a suspicion of his declared motives, a sort a crypto-cultural imperialism in mystical dress. No Doubt the genuine crypto-cultural imperialism of Deguchi's Oomoto lends this view some patina of credence, but it does not stand well on its own. In a strong version it would seem very much "conspiracy theory" stuff -- as though the Japanese Odessa File is -- oh, any day now -- going to come to spectacularly to light and all the schemes be laid bare.
I have no doubt that Morihei Ueshiba was as hardbitten an imperialist as was, say Churchill, in his day. The suggestion of the wartime conversion as cover for a later ulterior agenda, I find lacking in evidence (so far), and the evidence of lingering associations is not evidence.
Both of those are lacking in persuasive force for me. The associational evidence is certainly there and not to be denied -- but what does it mean? How is it to be made more than mere conviction by inuendo of others' earlier views? Especially what does it tell us when his own views he declared changed and removed himself from most public association almost three years before it became politic to do so?
The naive assumption persuades more, to me. So, it was a dumb question.
And all that said --- I look forward eagerly to such of those perspectives as your next installments may address.