TOKYO: Japanese manufacturers were less pessimistic about business conditions in September than they were in June, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) said in its influential quarterly economic "tankan" survey of corporate sentiment released this week. The September tankan diffusion indices showed improvements in all four categories -- major and small firms, and manufacturers and nonmanufacturers -- for the first time since May 1994-November 1994, according to the BOJ. The bank's diffusion index for major Japanese manufacturers rebounded 15 points to minus 22 in September from minus 37 in its June survey, its strongest quarterly gain since November 1987, a central bank official said. The index for nonmanufacturers climbed to minus 23 in September vs minus 28 in June. Indices are forecast to stage further recovery, to minus 16 for the October-December quarter for major producers and to minus 18 for major nonproducers. A negative number indicates "unfavorable" responses exceeded "favorable" ones.