Rugby World Cup Ltd recommended England, who held the 1991 tournament, to host the 2015 event and Japan, who have never previously hosted it, for 2019 "achieving a balance between funding the global game and developing new rugby markets".
They also said they did not want matches to be shared with neighbouring countries as has been common in several previous tournaments.
"All the tenders were of a very high standard and each Union demonstrated that they could host an excellent rugby World Cup. It is a tribute to the health of the game and the enormous prestige of RWC that the field was so strong," RWCL chairman Bernard Lapasset said in a statement.
"Both Italy and South Africa submitted comprehensive tenders with very strong government support and would be capable of hosting outstanding rugby World Cup tournaments now or in the future.
"I would like to thank and congratulate them both for the quality of their tenders. However, there could only be two recommended Unions and after detailed review, the RWCL Board decided that England and Japan would provide the best balanced combination of hosts for the continued worldwide development of the game.
"The RWCL board believes that a rugby World Cup in Japan would provide a gateway to the further development and expansion of the game in Asia, reaching out to new young fans and providing a superb spectacle for the sport."
The Dublin-based IRB Council will announce the final decision on the hosts for both tournaments after a meeting on July 28.
The next World Cup, in 2011, will be held in New Zealand.