Going back to your comment: it's not just about making the animal "perform", I see it more as a proof of freshness. In the end is all about the textures and flavours.
So much talking about food, now I'm hungry :)
I do still eat chicken, but I recognize it as a personal moral failing and point of shame. The fact that I come from a culture where it is normalized explains my behaviour, but doesn't absolve my responsibility.
Making a show of torturing the animal in front of the customer is particularly abhorrent.
seems like the most practical reason, though the practice does make me very uncomfortable
How did it happen that they're sometimes absolutely great/avantgarde/etc... and then sometimes they fall back to the exact opposite?
I often think that on the day when I'll be able to understand japan culture, I'll have no challenges left on this planet => I'll need some kind of extraterrestrial-invasion or faster-then-light-travel to find new interesting stuff to understand :)
The reality is, Japan is a net cultural exporter, and seems to have gone out of its way to prevent contaminating its social identity with foreign imports. Needless to say, the country has been heavily influenced by the brands it's imported, and the processes of technological/financial exchange abroad. But the nation itself has broadly kept its interactions with the outside world professional, or one-sided.
Attempting to measure the nation (honestly most east-asian nations) with the metrics of progress we would we would use for more culturally integrated countries will always be confounding. They represent a parallel civilization that refuses to be subsumed by western thought in the way many less geographically defensible/isolated and technologically developed societies inevitably have been.
As a result, their social development will never quite adhere to the broad trends that more westernized societies seem destined to follow.
Imagine a "Florida man" news making the buzz in Japan, and them assuming most Americans wrestle a gator every day before breakfast.
Now back to the zombie squid, it certainly exists but I'm sure most Japanese have never eat that dish, probably even never hears about it. Just like most French people have never eaten an ortolan (something I consider much more shocking than the squid video - and I'm French.)
The same could be said about Indians, Thai or Nigerians.
I believe that the assertion is Moreso true for Japan than it is for just about any other culture on earth, given their heavy cultural influence and integration into the global economy. I also believe their practices are far more hygenic than those in other non-western States.
It's much harder to pick out the western footprint in Japanese culture because western influences are so heavilly mutated during their transition to Japanese society, and more of them just don't map onto it. The same is harder to say for many other countries that more often emulate than dissect and adapt. Western elements in other societies tend to stick out like sore thumbs, and remain relatively unchanged from their sources.
India is also a good example.
If you include Thailand in countries that have maintained their unique culture free of Western ideas, I think you have to include virtually all countries. I’ve lived around half my life in Thailand, and like any country it has its specialties, but particular resistance to Western ideas is not one of them. It’s a country that has previously prided itself on integration of Western ideals (cf Rama V), and continues to wholeheartedly embrace fusion with certain cultures (Chinese, Western, Japanese) while strongly pushing back on others (Indian, for example).
"Adding salt to freshly cut muscle causes it to spasm." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCeA72UFg3Q