Re: Hiroshi Ikeda Becomes "Independent Teacher"
I think there are at least two aspects to this generation change (which every Japanese haken shihan who has built up an organization has to cope with).
One concerns the structure of the organization viewed from the inside and the personal relationships (or lack of relationships) therein.
The other concerns the structure of the organization viewed from the outside and the relationship (or lack of relationship) with the Aikikai is a major factor here. Saotome Shihan had a personal relationship with Kisshomaru Ueshiba and the structures set in place when he returned to the Aikikai have remained. As I stated, the organization of the ASU is quite unique and perhaps Saotome Shihan was looking over his shoulder at what was happening in the USAF. Given Mr Ikeda's widespread following, I do not think it should be too difficult to maintain or establish a relationship with the Aikikai, should he choose to do so.
I know nearly all the haken shihan who have maintained a direct relationship with the Aikikai over the years and the only one who designated a successor was K Chiba in the UK. He designated Minoru Kanetsuka and the transition was by no means smooth, as Joe Curran and Philip Smith can attest.
The iemoto model relies for its efficacy partly on good genetics, in the form of a suitable heir, and partly on the willingness of those who are not in the designated family line to accept the system and their place within it. I have major reservations about the efficacy of this system if it is applied to organizations larger than small groups, where the practice of the art has a long tradition.
Most of the organizations affiliated to the Aikikai outside Japan do not work on this model and the changeover from a single haken shihan with no designated (and accepted) successor is likely to be a collegiate form of power sharing among the seniors.