Most legal theorists believe that the rule of law has purely formal characteristics. For example, these theorists argue that the law requires generality (general rules that apply to classes of people and behaviors as opposed to individuals), publicity (no secret laws), prospective application (few or no retroactive laws), consistency (no contradictory laws), equality (equally applied throughout society), and certainty (certainty of application to a particular situation), but formalists claim that there are no requirements regarding the content of the law. Others, including some legal theorists, believe that the rule of law necessarily implies the protection of the rights of the individual. In legal theory, these two approaches to the rule of law are seen as the two fundamental alternatives, each referred to as the formal and substantive approach. Nevertheless, there are other points of view as well. Some believe that democracy is part of the rule of law.  The rule of law is a principle that all persons, institutions and organizations are accountable to the laws: While all of these definitions may differ in their exact wording, they are all intended to legitimize laws and legal principles. If people do not believe that the laws themselves are just and that the laws applied to them do not apply to others (such as legislators), the entire legal system will seem invalid. But simply saying that all laws apply equally to all people all the time does not do justice to all laws. As Anatole France said: “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges, begging in the streets and stealing bread.
“This conclusion does not presuppose a superiority of the judiciary over the legislative power. It only assumed that the power of the people was greater than both; and that if the will of the legislature declared in its statutes is contrary to that of the people declared in the Constitution, judges should be governed by the latter and not by the former. They should regulate their decisions by fundamental laws and not by those that are not fundamental. Or you might see that the term undermines the rule of law. This means that someone is acting in a way that has the potential to destroy the general consensus that everyone in society will follow the same rules. In general, the rule of law implies that the creation of laws, their application and the relationship between legal norms themselves are governed by law, so that no one – including the most senior official – is above the law. The legal restriction for leaders means that the government is subject to existing laws as well as to its citizens. A closely related term is therefore the idea of equality before the law, which states that no “legal” person can enjoy privileges that are not extended to all and that no one should be immune from legal sanctions. In addition, the application and decision of legal norms by different government officials in equivalent cases must be impartial and consistent, regardless of class, status or relative power between the parties to the dispute. In addition, for these ideas to have a real purchase, there should be a legal apparatus to force civil servants to submit to the law.
The “formal” interpretation is more widespread than the “substantial” interpretation. Formalists believe that the law must be forward-looking and well-known and have characteristics of generality, equality and certainty. Apart from that, the formal opinion does not contain any requirement as to the content of the law.  This formal approach allows for the adoption of laws that protect democracy and individual rights, but recognizes the existence of the “rule of law” in countries where such laws do not necessarily exist to protect democracy or the rights of the individual. The best-known arguments in favour of formal interpretation have been put forward by A.V. Dicey, F.A.Hayek, Joseph Raz and Joseph Unger. One phrase that often occurs is ignoring the rule of law. This implies that someone pretends to think that the law does not apply to them. In 1959, an event was held in New Delhi at which the International Commission of Jurists issued a statement on the fundamental principle of the rule of law. The event was composed of more than 185 judges, lawyers and law professors from 53 countries. This later became known as the Delhi Declaration. During the statement, they explained what the rule of law entails.
These include certain rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary and social, economic and cultural conditions conducive to human dignity. The only aspect that is not included in the Delhi Declaration is that the rule of law requires that the legislature be subject to judicial review.  Positions and methods of servitude While certain institutional traditions and conventions, as well as written laws, may be important in ensuring that judicial decisions are based on plausible interpretations of existing laws, no unique institutional character of a state should be considered necessary or sufficient for the ideal of the rule of law. The rule of law is not linked to national experience or to a number of institutions in particular, although it may be better served in some countries and by some institutions. Moreover, institutional arrangements that guarantee the rule of law in one community cannot be easily duplicated or transplanted into another. Different communities embody their own judgments on how certain constitutional ideals can be implemented in light of their particular legal and cultural traditions, which of course influence the character of their institutions. Nevertheless, the initial sociological condition of the rule of law is shared across cultures: for the rule of law to be more than an empty principle, most people in a society, including those whose profession is to administer the law, must believe that no person or group should be above the law. The rule of law is considered one of the key dimensions that determine the quality and good governance of a country.  Research, such as the Global Governance Indicators, defines the rule of law as “the extent to which officers trust and respect the rules of society, in particular the quality of contract, police and court enforcement, as well as the likelihood of crime or violence.”  Based on this definition, the Global Governance Indicators project has developed aggregated measures of the rule of law in more than 200 countries, as shown in the map on the right.  Japan had a centuries-old tradition of laws before World War II, but they did not provide a central organizing principle for society and did not limit the powers of government (Boadi, 2001).
At the beginning of the 21st century. In the nineteenth century, the percentage of people who were lawyers and judges in Japan remained very low compared to Western Europe and the United States, and legislation in Japan tended to be rare and general, leaving much discretion in the hands of bureaucrats.   Researchers continue to debate whether the U.S. Constitution has adopted a particular interpretation of the “rule of law” and, if so, which one. .