Higginbotham will play Super Rugby this year and is expected to be named in the Wallabies squad for the September-October showpiece in England before quitting Australia.
The Rebels said on their website that Higginbotham would take up a contract in the Japanese Top League.
"I love the Rebels, and I also love every opportunity to play for my country; I'll always be grateful for the opportunities I have been given in Australia," Higginbotham said in a statement on Monday.
"I'm so excited for the season ahead with the Rebels and the Wallabies, and all the success to be had in 2015."
Higginbotham has played in more than 30 tests for the Wallabies and has scored 27 tries in 93 Super Rugby matches for the Queensland Reds and Rebels, who he joined in 2013.
The 28-year-old Perth-born forward did not say which side he would join in Japan, which will host the 2019 World Cup.
The country routinely snaffles top international players on lucrative short-term contracts between World Cups, with former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and flyhalf Berrick Barnes among those competing in this season's campaign.