Speaking with reporters on his way to the Middle East, Mattis said the most recent test was not an intercontinental ballistic missile but still a reckless move.
Donald Trump's administration has embarked on a more forceful United States stance toward North Korea's recent missile tests and threats, including a warning from the president that the North Korean leader has "gotta behave".
Aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, the vice-president told troops he was there as "storm clouds gather on the horizon" of north-east Asia.
"We need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue" with the global community, he said, urging China and Russian Federation to play more constructive roles on the issue.
The Ronald Reagan, whose home port is Yokosuka, Japan, is part of the Seventh Fleet and is regularly deployed around the western Pacific.
In an interview with Wall Street Journal last week, Trump also said China hasn't been manipulating its currency for months, a sharp reversal from his campaign rhetoric.
"Any message for North Korea, sir, Kim Jong-Un?"
China accounts for an estimated 80 percent of North Korea's foreign trade, along with crucial food and fuel assistance.
North Korea used Chinese-made trucks to display missiles at a massive military parade last week, according to photographs released by state media, underlining the difficulty in enforcing United Nations sanctions against the isolated state.
Pence told Abe that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the "cornerstone" of peace and security in Northeast Asia and the Trump administration places a high value on its commitment to the region through the alliance.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, is pushing to expand the military's role and legislation was passed in 2015 that could see troops engage in overseas combat for the first time since the end of World War II.
The often tortuous and fruitless talks collapsed in a stalemate in 2009, during the rule of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il.
"We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis", Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol told the BBC.
The remark coincided with reports that China's attempts to get North Korea to even meet its nuclear envoy have been ignored.
North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador, Kim In-ryong, described US-South Korean military exercises as the largest ever "aggressive war drill" and said his country was "ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US".
North Korea showed off an array of weapons including missiles in a military parade Saturday before an unsuccessful ballistic missile test the following day.
"If the United States of America is planning a military attack against us we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method", Han said.
North Korea objects to a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for April 28, and to be chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, created to show the worldwide community's resolve in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program.
"The prevailing grave situation proves once again that the DPRK was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defence and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot", he said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday made a new appeal calling for calm on the Korean peninsula.