Ivanka Trump’s recent visit to Japan sparked a media frenzy, but critics pointed out that the enthusiasm owed more to her “Disney princess” image than her appearance at a conference on female empowerment.

The Japanese government gave an extra warm welcome to Ivanka, 36, eldest daughter and adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, while media reports focused on her beauty and clothing in detail.

Being treated as an A-list celebrity in her host nation contrasted with the U.S. media’s less than rapturous reaction to Ivanka’s Japanese trip.

Kumi Yokoe, a journalism professor at Toyo University, said a cultural gap explains the difference in attitudes toward Ivanka.

“Although women who beat their own path are appreciated in the United States and Europe, ‘princesses’ who support their fathers as daughters while establishing themselves at the same time are preferred in Asia,” said Yokoe.

Ivanka, the daughter of Ivana, President Trump’s first wife, graduated from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, like her father. The mother-of-three has established a fashion brand targeting working women.

In the United States, some people attribute Ivanka’s business success to her status as Trump’s daughter, while there is criticism that Ivanka has not reprimanded her father for his sexist remarks in the past.

On Nov. 3, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded Ivanka and reaffirmed his intent to contribute $50 million (5.62 billion yen) to a fund she initiated at the World Assembly for Women: WAW! 2017 conference held at a hotel in Tokyo.

“Ms. Ivanka led the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative,” said Abe. “I strongly support the move.”

Ivanka, clad in a pink suit, and Abe appeared on stage together during the conference.

But Jeff Kingston, an Asian studies professor at Temple University’s Japan Campus, says that for many women in both Japan and the United States Ivanka has little credibility as an advocate for empowering women because she is so privileged and even defended her father's inappropriate behavior and comments regarding women.

Kingston also said even if some Japanese women respect Ivanka, she is more like a Disneyfied fantasy figure rather than a role model.

On the other hand, Nancy Snow, a professor of international relations at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, who heard Ivanka’s speech at the WAW! conference, criticized the U.S. media for being too harsh on her.

Snow said the meeting was not as well attended as it could have been, partly because of heavy security at the venue.

Still, Snow argued Ivanka should have shown her personality and interacted actively with others instead of just reading a prepared statement, saying Ivanka, in a short skirt and full makeup, was like a “Barbie doll.”

Japanese and U.S. media reported on Ivanka’s visit to Japan in very different ways.

Japanese TV broadcasters aired her waving at an airport and taking a stroll in front of the Imperial Palace during her stay.

A fashion critic on a commercial TV station gossip show even described Ivanka as “very attractive since she is 180 centimeters tall and has blond hair.”

State broadcaster Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) also reported on Ivanka for 10 minutes in its news program in a generally favorable manner, saying, “Competition to lure Ivanka is heating up among nations across the globe.”

The Asahi Shimbun also announced Ivanka’s arrival at Narita Airport under the headline of “Hello Japan.”

In contrast, the U.S. media were cynical about Ivanka’s visit.

An unimpressed Washington Post article stated: “At least four television channels broadcast a live shot of an empty escalator Thursday afternoon, awaiting her arrival at the airport, interspersed with her tweets and Instagram photos.”

The newspaper also pointed out that many seats were empty when Ivanka delivered her speech at the WAW! conference

In the article, commentators said her arrival “generated the kind of coverage usually reserved for celebrities.”

The New York Times reported in a critical tone that most TV broadcasters and conference attendees only mentioned her appearance and beauty.

During Ivanka’s three-day stay in Japan, Tokyo provided “unusually kind treatment” to the “first daughter,” such as dinner with Abe in a ryokan inn in the capital, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official.

Sources close to both Tokyo and Washington said Ivanka is believed to be influential in Trump’s decision-making, explaining the reasoning behind Japan’s especially warm reception.

Many nations are said to have contacted Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is senior adviser to President Trump, when Trump took office, to build a connection with the new president.

It is also believed that Ivanka helped Abe meet with Trump earlier than other world leaders.

A senior Japanese government official said Ivanka’s presence had an unexpected effect, too.

“Ms. Ivanka captured considerable attention, casting a spotlight on Mr. Trump’s visit to Japan,” the official said.

Yokoe, who was formerly a researcher at the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation think tank, described Japan’s strategy as being reasonable.

“Ivanka is very close (to Trump) as his family,” said the university professor. “It is reasonable for the Japanese government to put a priority on fostering a connection with the most influential person in the Trump administration.”

(This article was written by Kazuyo Nakamura and Kotaro Ono.)