In 2004 the rally was promoted to World Championship status as the inaugural Rally Japan. The following year the World and Asia-Pacific rallies were split into separate rallies with both still being held in Hokkaido with Rally Japan as the WRC round, Rally Hokkaido as the APRC round. It has been throughout a Japan Rally Championship event as well.
The event has been dominated by Subaru Imprezas with only one win taken by any other manufacturer. Local driver Toshihiro Arai has won his home event six times.