Biography and History

Tristan E. Beplat (1912-1997) was a New York banking executive with expertise in international banking. He had a significant role in the economic reconstruction of postwar Japan through his work in the Finance Division of the Economic and Scientific Section, General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. His particular emphasis was foreign exchange, although he worked on a wide variety of issues related to finance.

Tristan E. Beplat was born on June 14, 1912. He attended the College of the City of New York, graduating in 1935 with majors in Civil Engineering and in Finance and Business Administration. He then attended the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Banking, majoring in Foreign Exchange and International Banking, and graduated in 1937. He also attended post-graduate courses in banking from 1937 to 1940.

Beplat held many positions related to finance during his career, including United States Government Board Trader at J.W. Seligman & Company (1933-1937), Assistant Chief of the Foreign Exchange Division of the Manufacturers Trust Company (1937-1940), and Chief of the Foreign Exchange Division of the Bank of New York and Fifth Avenue Bank (1940-1943). He was also a member and captain of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Banking Debating Team (1937-1943), a member of the National Debating Committee of the American Institute of Banking (1942), and elected Chief Consul of the Board of Governors, New York Chapter (1943).

Beplat was inducted into the United States Army in March 1943. He was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in November 1944 and selected to serve on a team to help rebuild the economy of postwar Japan. He attended the School of Military Government at the University of Virginia from February to April 1945, where he received extensive training in fiscal and administrative functions with particular emphasis being placed on the application of these functions in Japan. He then attended the Civil Affairs Training School at Harvard University from April to August 1945, where he received advanced specialized training in Japanese finance and language study. Beplat served as Assistant Chief of the Foreign Exchange Branch, Finance Division, Economic and Scientific Section (ESS), General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ-SCAP) from October 1945 to March 1946 and as Chief of the Foreign Exchange Unit, Money and Banking Branch, ESS, GHQ-SCAP from May to August 1946, when he was honorably discharged from the Army. He received an Army Commendation Ribbon for his service in 1946.

After he was discharged, Beplat remained in Japan, working for the Army as a civilian. From 1946 to 1948 he served as Chief of the Money and Banking Branch, Finance Division, ESS, GHQ-SCAP. He also served as chairman of the foreign exchange committee. During this period, he supervised the private finance of Japan, which included opening all banks, including the Bank of Japan, foreign exchange rates and transactions, national credit controls, currency issue and circulation control, financial control of foreign nationals, insurance companies, security exchanges and dealings, corporate finance, and the preparation of financial legislation and controls in coordination with the Japanese Government, and served as a liaison with foreign missions on finance matters. He was instrumental in setting an exchange rate that sharply devalued the yen from its prewar value, which successfully enabled the Japanese to export goods, aiding in the growth of their economy. In 1947, while still in Japan, he also co-founded the American Club of Tokyo, an establishment for United States citizens, and co-founded the Tokyo Branch of the Reserve Officers Association.

In 1948, Beplat opened a representative office in Tokyo, Japan for Manufacturers Hanover, the first office for an American bank since the war. He worked there until 1954, when he returned to the United States. In 1955, Beplat was placed in charge of the bank's banking relations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and in 1963 he became senior vice president. Beplat retired in 1974, after rising to the position of senior vice president and deputy general manager of the international division. Soon after his retirement, he received the Second Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese Government for his services during the occupation.

Beplat remained involved in finance after his retirement, serving as a consultant on international finance and investment. His work included consulting for President Ferdinand E. Marcos and President Corazon Aquino of the Philippines. He received the Philippine Government's highest civilian award in 1971 for his work on financing infrastructure projects. He was also involved in several societies for promoting business and understanding between Asia and the United States. Beplat died on November 28, 1997.

Source: From the finding aid for MC222