Japan's core private-sector machinery orders, a leading indicator of corporate capital spending, rose 3.0 percent in May from the previous month, official data showed on Thursday.
The core data, which exclude volatile demand from power companies and for ships, reversed a 3.3 percent drop registered for April, figures from the Cabinet Office showed.
Economists' median forecast was a 2.6 percent rise, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
The numbers appear to show that companies are now more willing to invest in plant and equipment while orders related to post-quake reconstruction are also expected to show continued strength.
Orders from the public sector jumped 10.7 percent in a turnaround from a drop of 1.2 percent in April.
Japan has been pushing ahead with reconstruction after the March earthquake and tsunami. Parliament in early May passed an emergency four trillion yen ($49 billion) relief budget to help fund the reconstruction.
By sector, orders from manufacturers of information and communication electronics equipment rose 28.4 percent. Orders from makers of automobiles, parts and accessories rose 2.9 percent.
Machinery orders from construction companies rose 41.5 percent with orders from wholesale and retail firms climbing 35.8 percent.