The story,"A Better Way To Die", was written by Haruki Murakami. It appeared in the New Yorker on January 20, 1997. The piece for the New Yorker was translated by Jay Rubin.
The piece, which takes place in August of 1945 (the ending of the war--to the month), takes place in the city of Hsin-ching at a local zoo.
The piece details the events surrounding the deaths of many different Chinese men wearing baseball uniforms with numbers on them. Systematically, a lieutenant forces two prisoners to kill the Chinese men in the baseball uniforms after asking the veterinarian if he is afraid of death.
The veterinarian, previously putting what the government deemed dangerous animals at the zoo to death, begins to understand the different types of death one can face.
Basically, the setting of the zoo adds to the contradictions and confusions which arise in the minds of the men given the slaughter of both the animals and the men are based upon simplistic ideologies of those deemed in power. In reality, some may not see the deaths necessary based upon personal thoughts regarding individuals over maintained stereotypes.
In the end, death is not picky. Death takes people regardless of rank, education, or physicality if human or animal).