China's official news agency has slammed Prime Minister Tony Abbott for praising Japan's World War II military prowess in his welcome to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Xinhua believes Mr Abbott's admiration of Japanese war skills was appalling and "insensible" (sic) to victim countries.
"He probably wasn't aware that the Japanese troops possessed other 'skills', skills to loot, to rape, to torture and to kill. All these had been committed under the name of honour almost 70 years ago," Xinhua said in a commentary on its website.
The agency is regarded as reflecting the views of China's government.
This comes amid growing Chinese assertiveness in regional territorial disputes. Japan is also shrugging off the pacifist foreign policy it has had since its defeat in World War II.
More than any other nation, China suffered under Japan's 14-year military occupation with as many as 20 million dead.
In his address to the parliamentary sitting attended by Mr Abe, Mr Abbott cited the bravery of Japanese submariners killed in the 1942 raid on Sydney harbour.
"We admired the skill and the sense of honour that they brought to their task although we disagreed with what they did. Perhaps we grasped, even then, that with a change of heart the fiercest of opponents could be the best of friends," Mr Abbott said.
Xinhua said Mr Abbott showed how "insensible" he is towards people who suffered greatly as a result of the "advanced" war skills of Japanese troops and their sense of honour during their aggression.
"While Japan has earned the reputation of a good international citizen, how much does it owe to its pacifist constitution, of which Abe and his cabinet are trying to change by re-interpreting its key article," it said.
Diggers would disagree
The head of the RSL says many Australian diggers would disagree with Prime Minister Tony Abbott's praise for Japan's World War II military prowess.
RSL president Rear Admiral Ken Doolan says there are Australian soldiers who fought in World War II who have the view that some Japanese in some instances did not behave with honour.
Admiral Doolan's told ABC Radio many members of the RSL will disagree with what the Japanese forces did during the Second World War.
Mr Abbott expressed admiration for Japanese submariners killed in an attack on Sydney in a speech to honour the visit of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
PM did not damage China relations: Cormann
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has played down criticism of the speech in which Tony Abbott praised Japanese troops.
Minister Cormann said the prime minister's speech wasn't "against anyone" and would not damage relations with China.
"We have an important friendship and an important relationship with Japan and we have an important friendship and an important relationship with China," he told ABC radio.
"Friendship with one doesn't exclude friendship with another."