Japan PM asks ASEAN to exert 'highest level' of pressure on North Korea

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14 ) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday urged leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to exert the "highest level" of pressure on North Korea.

Speaking at the ASEAN-Japan Summit, Abe reiterated his call for the international community to increase pressure on the hermit state-- a move Japan hopes will make it seek dialogue and lay down arms.

"We need to make North Korea change their policy by enhancing the pressure applied to North Korea to the highest level by all available means, including the full implementation of the Security Council's resolutions," Abe said.

North Korea's rapidly-progressing missile and nuclear tests have heightened tensions within its neighboring regions and raised  alarm in the international community.

Since February, North Korea has launched 22 missiles during 15 tests.

While its shows of power have been met with heavy economic sanctions from the United Nations, it remains defiant and has on several occasions threatened to fire missiles over the U.S. territory of Guam.

Abe, whose country is separated from North Korea only by the Sea of Japan, called the North Korea's nuclear and missile threat a "grave and imminent threat that we have never experienced."

This statement was echoed by Japan Foreign Press Secretary Norio Maruyama, who told media at a press briefing the international community must create conditions that leave North Korea with "no other choice" but to seek dialogue with other nations.

"The issue of North Korea missile development poses an unprecedented grave and imminent threat. We must increase the pressure on North Korea to the maximum extent using all possible means," he said.

The North Korea issue was also mentioned during bilateral talks between President Rodrigo Dutete and Abe.

"But I can assure you that in the matter of the interest of your country and mine, we are supporting you against what North Korea is doing," Duterte said.

"We have said it several times already in the past that it is not to the interest of North Korea to swagger around and threaten the world, of keeping us hostage with the atomic weapons," he added.

Duterte said the Philippines "condemns" the launching of missiles by North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. 

In October, he said world leaders should reach out and assure North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un they are not out to wage a war to calm down the country's leader.

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this story.