BEIJING- Chinese newspapers blasted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday, describing his visit to Yasukuni Shrine as "paying homage to devils" and warning that China has the ability to crush "provocative militarism".
Abe visited Yasukuni on Thursday, a shrine where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honoured along with those who died in battle.
The move has infuriated China and South Korea, both of which were occupied by Japanese forces until the end of the war, and prompted concern from the United States about deteriorating ties between the North Asian neighbours.
In an editorial headlined "Abe's paying homage to the devils makes people outraged", the military's People's Liberation Army Daily said Abe's actions have "seriously undermined the stability of the region".
"On one hand, Abe is paying homage to war criminals, and on the other hand, he talks about improving relations with China, South Korea and other countries," the newspaper said. "It is simply a sham, a mouthful of lies.
"Today, the Chinese people have the ability to defend peace and they have a greater ability to stop all provocative militarism."
In a separate commentary published under the pen name "Zhong Sheng", or "voice of China", the Communist Party's People's Daily said: "History tells us that if people do not correctly understand the evils of the fascist war, cannot reflect on war crimes, a country can never (achieve) true rejuvenation."
The Global Times, an influential nationalistic tabloid owned by the People's Daily, urged China to shut its door to Abe and other Japanese officials who have visited the shrine this year.
"If condemnations are China's only recourse, then the nation is giving up its international political rights easily," the newspaper said. "Ineffective countermeasures will make China be seen as a 'paper tiger' in the eyes of the rest of the world.
"In the eyes of China, Abe, behaving like a political villain, is much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists."
A survey on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging site on Thursday showed that almost 70 per cent of respondents would support a boycott of Japanese goods, with many users expressing outrage at the shrine visit. The survey was later removed.
However, the topic was not one of the most talked about on Weibo, with people being more distracted by the latest celebrity gossip and the upcoming new year.