China is stepping up its rhetoric against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the wake of his visit last month to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine.
Through Beijing's official website on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Abe had "crossed the bottom line of human conscience" by paying tribute at the shrine.
Wang says Abe has a distorted view on history, as he regards the convicted war criminals as "the souls of the war dead."
Korea and China consider the Yasukuni shrine to be a symbol of Japanese military aggression.
Fourteen Class-A war criminals and hundreds more convicted of lesser crimes are enshrined there alongside 2.5 million Japanese war dead.
In regards to the cancellations of visits by Chinese officials to Japan that were initally scheduled for this month, Beijing's foreign ministry spokesperson said it was inevitable that Abe's actions would affect Sino-Japanese relations.
Earlier, Japan's UN ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa said Abe's visit did not praise war criminals, but was meant to respect those died in war.
Halfway around the world in Paris on Thursday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held talks with Japan's foreign and defense ministers.
Fabius seemed to side with Tokyo on Abe's visit, saying although the issue is a delicate one, the Japanese prime minister was merely paying his respects to the war dead.
The French minister added that interpretations should be left for historians, and he called for other countries to have an open discussion on the issue.
Abe's younger brother and senior vice foreign minister Nobuo Kishi will head to the U.S. next week to seek Washington's understanding for Abe's visit to the Yasukuni war shrine.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.