Peter A Goldsbury
One of the problems about threads such as this is that people come and ask questions here, when they should really sending these questions to the Aikikai directly, addressed to Moriteru Ueshiba, Aikido Doshu. I think that if Doshu received enough letters from ordinary aikido people, asking him questions like those you are asking, he might realise that he needs to give answers.
I for one wouldn't feel significant enough to expect an answer from Hombu. Maybe there is a perception of inaccessibility to the common student? I think there might also be a fear of losing face by asking a question that is either disrespectful/offensive from a Japanese point of view or seen as stupid because there, the answer is common knowledge. It's truly a privilege to have folks like yourself who have feet firmly planted in both worlds to answer these questions.
It would be a wonderful thing to see some of the issues discussed here captured in either an aikiwiki or aikido faq article, if it has not been already. There are a lot of organizational questions that some of us lower ranked folks might have but are afraid to ask (or unable to obtain an answer to through normal channels). Yes, most of it has very little to do with our training until we hit the middle dan rankings. Nevertheless, it might result in a lot of things making more sense along the way, especially if we have to change organizations mid-stream due to relocation.
Thanks again for all your patient answers!
(who was, btw, voted most likely to have a question by her graduating class!)