And how in the world does Aikikai Honbu view a 7th dan shihan from outside of Japan that will likely have to defer (or rather entirely drop their shihan status and just be a 7th dan) to a newly appointed Aikikai Honbu training staff 6th dan shihan?
As Mark has said, there are at least three categories here, not just two. There are those Japanese-born teachers who were trained in Japan and have been awarded shihan status. Most are still in Japan, but some are living and teaching outside Japan: for instance Chiba, Yamada and Saotome. However, a small subset of these are Aikikai Hombu Shihan, who have been trained up at the heart at the system by the Ueshiba family and senior teachers there, and are currently on the full-time teaching roll at Hombu Dojo.
Kanetsuka Sensei has talked about the status of Hombu Shihan: although we have had relatively young 6th Dans from Hombu as guest instructors at the BAF Summer School in recent years, he says that "Hombu Shihan" is a separate category to any other, including his own shihan status, since they are full-time teachers at the world headquarters dojo, and so are official representatives of the Aikikai and Doshu. In terms of relative status in reality, however, I suspect that the concept of honne-tatemae
might be appropriate in this context...
As has already been mentioned, there is a growing number of non-Japanese shihan, with their title conferred by Hombu Dojo, and I have heard nothing to suggest that the Aikikai has stopped awarding these. In the UK there are around ten of these, including Terry Ezra (now 7th Dan), Matthew Holland, Gordon Jones and others.