I am willing to bet a loy of money that the Doshu would not have been giving out a Birankai certificate. I heard that the Aikikai has given it's own certificates to all of Chiba's Birankai shihans (Chiba had promoted them within his own organisation first). As far as I know he is still issueing Birankai dan and shihan certificates independently of the Aikikai, but Aikikai dan certificates can be obtained for those who want them and are willing to pay for them.
There are two separate and distinct items here. Shihan and dan certificates. I don't think anyone here is arguing about the dan certificates. Most Aikikai affiliated organizations can get, not only their own dan certificates, but for a bit more money can get an Aikikai dan certificate.
We're talking about shihan status. I may be misunderstanding, but reading Peter's post, I took it that things changed regarding how the Aikikai views shihan status (again, not dan certificates). I also took it that there would be no more non-Japanese shihan in the Aikikai's eyes.
Do you know more about this issue than what Peter posted? If so, I'm very interested to hear it. It would help clear up some of the confusion.