George S. Ledyard
Just for clarification purposes. it has always been my understanding that what got collected for Dan tests was what was sent to Hombu. I do not believe that Saotome Sensei kept anything of those fees for himself. I could be wrong but that has been mu understanding all these years.
Yes, the ASU situation is unique and I think some effort should me made to resolve that status before Saotome Sensei retires or passes away. Many of the conversations we have all had about what would come next merely kicked the can down the road because the default answer always was Ikeda Sensei will take over. Now that it is clear that will not be the case I think many more discussions are on the agenda.
Omedetto gozaimasu. Eraku narimashita nee.
A few years ago the Aikikai sent round a circular letter explaining that it would return to organizations recognized by the Aikikai half the fees payable for dan examinations etc. This meant in practice that the organizations could send to the Aikikai half the amount payable. I saw the letter and when my dojo established a direct relationship with the Aikikai, I received a new list of fees payable, which were half what had been paid before. (I had actually sent the earlier amount, but later received a call from the Aikikai stating that I had paid too much. So we gave the surplus back to the applicants.)
However, I also know that many organizations did not and do not do this, but use the money to help dojo finances etc. I also suspect that this sometimes happens without the dan applicants being aware of it. I know that money matters are a major source of dojo conflict and in my own dojo we are completely open about dojo finances. The ASU is a large organization and I assume that there is a structure of affiliations fees, testing fees etc that is known to the members.
I once asked Doshu directly why the ASU had never been recognized by the Aikikai and he answered that this was a personal arrangement with Saotome Shihan. I suspect that this was a continuation of arrangements made with Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba when Saotome Shihan returned to the Aikikai. I also suspect that if the Aikikai had recognized the ASU at the time, there would have been a major explosion. However, times change. There used to be one organization in the US recognized by the Aikikai, namely, the USAF; now there are ten.