Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has so incensed China that bilateral talks are no longer possible, former PM Naoto Kan says.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s failure to show regret for his country’s World War II actions is hurting ties with China, says a former Japanese PM who is visiting Australia.

Naoto Kan says Mr Abe’s behaviour has so incensed China that it can no longer hold bilateral talks with Japan.

“Mr Abe has not shown sincere regret for the invasion of China and Japan’s actions during World War II,” Mr Kan told AAP in Brisbane, where he was visiting as part of his anti-nuclear tour of Australia.

“Because this stance is not being expressed, this is leading to the leaders of the two countries not being able to engage in frank dialogue at the moment.”

Mr Abe recently honoured more than a thousand war criminals in a message sent to a Japanese shrine.

Last year he prayed at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine, which honours Japan’s 2.5 million war dead, including many executed war criminals.

Mr Kan said the lack of talks was exacerbating a simmering territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea.

The Tokyo-controlled islands are known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu to China.

The Chinese ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, on Thursday called for Japan to make a bigger effort to mend ties with his country and work towards a resumption of bilateral talks.